Calling out the “obsolete legacy of carrying a bunch of plastic around,” Gov. Jared Polis today signed an executive order putting Coloradans one step closer to a smartphone-based digital identification system.
The feature will be rolled into the myColorado app, which the Governor’s Office of Information Technology debuted in January of this year, initially only providing driver’s license renewals.
“By Dec. 1 everyone will be able to use this for interaction with state agencies, with the exception of law enforcement,” Polis said on Tuesday. He clarified that some other uses , such as passing through Transportation Security Administration airport screenings or as identification for next week’s statewide election, are not yet permitted.
The myColorado app allows users to scan the barcode of their driver’s license and upload pictures of the front and back. It will enable a person to show their address and age, and according to Polis has even more security features than a plastic ID.
“Transaction technology has to be just as secure a thing as identity verification. The private sector’s already moved there,” Polis said. “You can use Venmo or PayPal where you can buy something with your iPhone. In many ways this is more secure than this—” he held up his credit card. Plastic cards, the governor mentioned, can be stolen.
Theresa Szczurek, the state’s chief information officer, said that 81% of Americans own smartphones, which amounts to approximately 4.5 million Coloradans.
“You can show your proof of identify even if you do not have cellular or wifi service,” she said. “Eventually—not now—we expect you will be able to use it for airline travel and states outside of Colorado that require REAL ID.”
REAL ID is a mandate for states to provide federally-compliant forms of identification by Oct. 1, 2020. Colorado is currently compliant, with only Oregon, Oklahoma and New Jersey awaiting approval.
In 2015, Iowa was the first state to try a digital drivers license. The Amsterdam-based security company Gemalto received a $2 million federal grant to pilot digital IDs in Colorado, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Idaho and Wyoming.
Polis said that the state is still recommending people carry their plastic identification with them for now.
“It’s a better consumer experience,” he said, adding “keep your plastic as a backup.”
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