ID Transactions as we “Open Up” Post Covid-19

Technology for Contactless ID exists now. As we open our economy, we can better protect our most virus-exposed society members on a new front-line: ID Checking.

The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping our planet and leaving no person or industry untouched. The tragic aftermath of this virus will continue to haunt us for years to come. Healthcare workers, TSA Agents, store clerks, and pharmacists are some of the many who have been working tirelessly to maintain and improve quality of life through the crisis.

Three TSA Agents have died and 428 Agents fallen sick from exposure doing their jobs during this pandemic.

We are grateful for their tireless work. Being on the front lines of this pandemic has left many exposed

TSA deserves tremendous credit for providing transparency and information in an effort to help travelers trace their exposure — potentially saving lives. Other agencies and businesses have given the same transparency and share information as we work together as a society against a common opponent and toward a common goal.

The New Front-Line

Preparing for post-quarantine, those on the front-line with the public need to mitigate risk. Currently, First Responders are left exposed when they ID victims upon arrival. Healthcare providers are infected daily despite the having taken precautions. Supermarket and liquor store clerks are suddenly the front lines in a mission to prevent the spread of coronavirus — we can paint lines at the cash register, but those people behind plexiglass have a 1:1 role with the public and need protection. Pharmacies and medical dispensaries have switched to drive-up sales and one-at-a-time interactions. Airports became risk points for international spread. For their efforts, may locals are showing appreciation to these new front-line personnel in the war against spreading viruses. But there are better, more efficient ways.

The Challenge Ahead

Now our Governors and President are laying ground rules for how to “open up”. We are all looking forward to our economy and our society opening up and leaving the sanitary confines of our homes for the freedom and social contact we all crave.

And just how are we going to accomplish this while improving health?

Our wallet contents are not germ-free. Hand over your ID!

Estonia’s digital identity infrastructure helped them immediately navigate to online learning and eGov as COVID-19 shut down our physical world. FATF and others are now seeing demand for digital ID in the US. Canadians are calling to create digital ID documents because of Covid. Airports want Contactless travel.

We must re-imagine all of the unhealthy habits and interactions from our previous world and improve them in the post-COVID-19 world. Adapt our retail interactions and more more business and government interactions online or distanced. An April 15th Lawfare article names identity as one of these new front-lines in the battle for health.

In the wake of September 11th, we gave up privacy and personal freedom in the battle to control Terrorism. This time, instead of making sacrifices, we can make improvements with technology we already have. We can even do immunity apps right, and technology people are listening.

What will we do to protect vulnerable, undervalued front-line personnel from being the nexus of a second wave or new pandemic?

Is this our best solution for Checking ID?

These front-line workers are now recognized for their value to society. But as we “distance” our in-person transactions, we are provoking the same identity problems encapsulated by the Dog On The Internet cartoon: when you can’t see the ID card, you can’t really know who the holder is. The 4/15 Lawfare article also lists some recommendations for solutions and funding to emerge safely. While the problems apply to online digital ID, they now also apply to in-person distanced ID.

We have the technology now to distance these transactions. It has been done with payments, and now it must happen with ID. Tap & Go, Check-in, Scanning…

Retailers are also moving age-based purchases to online delivery, checking ID through the front door glass and offering drop-and-go delivery. The difficulty with this — authenticating the ID and visually verifying the identity of the holder — is apparent and the drop in accuracy sharp. There’s a better way!

Allowing Citizens to Control their Digital ID

ISO 18013–5 creates the possibility of official, government-issued Mobile Driver’s Licenses and IDs (mDL). The State Issuer eSigns the data and puts it under the control of the mDL Holder (citizen) to be used via electronic transfer — just like payment cards. Shops and restaurants and rental counters, in short everyone that relies on government ID, can verify eSignatures. The mDL Holder consents to share personal information relevant to the transaction and the Verifier gets only the data they need.

States and other ID Issuers need to take action now for us all to have healthier Contactless ID interactions in the years ahead.

Physically distant social interactions
Physically distant social interactions
6 feet is a difficult distance to visually check ID

Let’s distance these ID transactions and reduce hand-to-hand exposure by adopting Mobile ID.

A recent Secure Technology Alliance whitepaper describes the advantages and challenges of the new identity ecosystem created by this ISO 18013–5 mDL standard. One of the challenges is Issuers having a financial reason to roll out mDL for their citizens… but now they have a more important societal reason.

Transmitting mDL data can avoid transmission of viruses. Contactless ID technology is available today

Relying Parties (Verifiers) will act to protect the health of their front-line personnel and will speak up to create the demand for mobile identity documents, full-featured ISO 18013–5 mDL, and Mobile ID. Issuers and Government funding sources… it’s time to listen. We made the transition in the US to Contactless Payment. By adopting the infrastructure for widespread Contactless ID now, we can not only keep people safer during this health crisis, but also protect them in the long-term from whatever contagions may pose a threat in the future.

Trusting identity in our mobile web of a world is a solvable problem if we define and build the right framing. David is a long-time identity industry expert.

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