Apple Reportedly Imposes Strict Requirements on States Offering Digital IDs
Apple is reportedly pushing surprisingly one-sided contracts on states that want to make their government-issued photo IDs available for use in the company’s recently updated Wallet app.
CNBC reports that Apple’s contracts with Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma give the company control over “what types of devices will be compatible with the digital IDs, how states are required to report on the performance of the effort, and when the program is launched.” The states also have to promote these digital IDs to their citizens and other government agencies.
These are interesting demands for a company to make of state agencies exploring new ways to offer an ostensibly government-managed service. Perhaps the most surprising thing about the contracts is that Apple doesn’t appear to be paying the participating states for promoting a new feature in its products; the deals specify that no money is supposed to be changing hands.
That means any hiring, reassignments, or contracting associated with meeting the requirements is coming right out of the participating states’ pockets. (Which, of course, ultimately means citizens of those states will be paying for the project via their taxes.) They won’t even see a return on investment—Apple says the states can’t require extra fees in exchange for a digital ID.
It’s clear how digital IDs could benefit individuals: They’re harder to misplace, since most people are well aware of where their phones are at any given moment, and they can be easier to access than a physical card buried somewhere in the bottom of a bag. Even if digital IDs don’t fully replace physical licenses any time soon, it’s nice for them to finally be available as an option.
It’s also clear how digital IDs benefit Apple. Being able to use an iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch as a form of official identification could make it even harder for people to switch to competitive products. Some people keep buying iPhones just because they don’t want their iMessage bubbles to turn green; do they seem likely to switch if doing so means giving up their digital ID?
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But the nature of these contracts doesn’t make it clear how states benefit from rolling out digital IDs, especially when they’re bearing the brunt of the costs for rolling out the feature and are contractually obligated to push digital IDs on “key stakeholders in federal and state government” as well as businesses that have to card their patrons for specific purchases, as CNBC reports.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.