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Rumors persist about Apple developing an all-digital passport and ID system

8 min read
  • Apple is allegedly researching a completely paperless passport, according to multiple new reports.
  • The company revealed possible details in a 13,000 word patent application, as noted by Apple Insider.
  • The reports say Apple is trying to implement the service in a way that keeps the user’s identity safe.

With the introduction of services such as Apple Pay, Apple Card and CarKey, Apple is already en-route to an all-digital service era. According to new reports, it seems the company has turned its attention to an all-digital passport and identification system to provide even more convenience to customers. Apple is allegedly researching how different types of paper identification can be replaced with the iPhone. According to Apple Insider, the company has already filed multiple patents for similar inventions in the past, most of which deal with identification. In a very detailed 13,000 word patent application filed by the company, they talk about implementing communication protocols like NFC and RFID along with a biosensor such as Face ID/Touch ID to authenticate the user. It also mentions a secure enclave for holding private data.

From the application:

User authentication framework," is about how to "securely perform a user authentication" when asked by "an issuing authority.

[This patent application] describes embodiments in which a person may present identification information through a mobile device instead of presenting a traditional form of identification," says Apple. "[It] begins with a discussion about storing identification information (e.g., of a passport, driver license, government-issued ID, student ID, etc.) on a mobile device... [And] then describes an authentication framework for performing a user authentication at the mobile device.

The patent application further discusses the amount of information that will be given per the request that has been asked, something similar to Apple Pay. It also discusses the complex scenarios that the information may be needed in — for instance passport control user ID and information may be necessary but it is also necessary for the user to confirm that they are indeed talking to authorized officials.

Take this as an example: let’s say you’re using an e-Passport, which is basically a modern passport for now. Most of them include an electronic chip that holds all of the information and you present this card to a customs officer and they confirm the information on the card and the information on the chip. In the same way, having Face ID confirmation would in some ways be better than an e-Passport because it would be real life authentication, which is confirmed to be the user because it unlocked with a glance of their face. From the application:

For example, modern passports (called e-Passports) may include an electronic chip that stores a passport holder's name, date of birth, and other forms of information. When a person is passing through customs, the person may present the passport to a customs officer, who places the passport on a reader to extract information stored in the passport[...]Upon verifying the information printed on the passport against the internally stored information, the officer may confirm the identity of the holder and allow the holder passage through customs.

This sounds plausible for Apple as to why it thinks Face ID is immediately going to be way more secure. The patent application is credited to three inventors.

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