A new report suggests Google is developing an “IdentityCredential” API aimed at allowing users to replace physical identification documents with secure digital versions that could be stored on Android devices. The tech giant is currently focusing on Digital Driver’s Licenses, but plans to expand the platform to other forms of documentation, up to and including passports.
The news comes courtesy of XDA-Developers, citing code in a Google project with input from Shawn Willden, the Lead of the Android Hardware-backed Keystore Team that is working on the IdentityCredential API. According to XDA’s report, Google proposes that the virtual driver’s licenses would be fully compliant with the ISO18013-5 standard, and would be a perfectly legitimate government ID. For instance, the digital licenses could be presented as proof of age at bars or liquor stores, or as a legal credential if the user gets pulled over.
Interestingly, the new tech would also allow users to access and display their digital driver’s license even when their phone doesn’t have enough battery to power the full Android Operating System. IdentityCredential would offer a “direct access” mode that would store identity documents separately, ensuring that people would always be able to bring up their most important documents and verify their identity in an emergency situation.
The power-saving feature would reduce one of the biggest drawbacks of digital IDs and make it easier for people and governments to get rid of paper documentation.
Google is not the first company to explore the possibility of digital driver’s licenses. Gemalto has been working on pilot projects in multiple US states and Atlantic Canada, while IDEMIA has similarly partnered with many US states to update existing driver’s license technology.