Is Apple working on a National ID Verification System?
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Identity Credential Verification Techniques." Three out of Apple's six person team working on this project are or were related to Apple Pay as follows:
Achim Pantfoerder: Senior Director Program Management and Senior Director Apple Pay Program Management.
Irene Graff: Consumer Privacy, Product Strategy, Global Scalability; was Sr. Manager, Operations for Apple Pay over two years.
Tommy Elliot: Senior Program Manager who has since left to be head of Digital Payments for Bank of America.
In a way you have to work backwards in order to even get a glimpse of understanding as to why this super complex patent has anything to do with Apple devices and their customers.
On one hand, the patent could be seen as a long-term Apple Pay team project that will one day connect Apple Pay customers with various new services like paying for your vehicle registration as well as traffic tickets using Apple Pay.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below illustrates in greater detail the components of an example communication module #600 where your credentials are verified for the DMC or law enforcement.
The communication module holds all Apple Pay customer information from fingerprints to Face ID and other future biometrics listed as "Iris scans, retina scans, voice recordings, photos" of you in addition to your license plate number and other vehicle information that various agencies working with Apple will be able to tap into.
Apple's main scenario for this invention involves a police officer being able to pull over a vehicle and communicate with the driver without ever leaving his vehicle as noted in patent FIG. 1 below.
Apple then explains that although the main example of the ID system centers on a traffic stop by a police officer, it should be appreciated that similar techniques may be employed in a variety of contexts.
By way of example, Apple notes that "a border patrol officer may utilize a requesting device in a similar manner to verify a person's identity during, for example, a border patrol stop/inspection."
That's such an odd example for Apple to highlight in their patent considering that Apple's CEO Tim Cook is currently fighting to protect DACA.
In another example from Apple, they note that a retailer may operate a device which may request and verify a credential provided by a customer's user device to verify the customer's age with respect to purchasing restricted items such as alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, and the like.
Likewise, a restaurant may utilize a device which may request and verify a credential provided by a diner's user device in order to verify that the diner is over the legal age to purchase a glass of wine.
So in these last examples, you can say that Apple's patent could be seen as a blueprint for a Virtual National ID verification program.
At the end of the day, you have to wonder. Is Apple's patent about a long term Apple Pay project or work on a National ID Card (physical and/or Virtual)? You be the judge.
To delve further into Apple's patent application 20190325125 issued today by the U.S. Patent Office click here. Their second patent by the same title can be viewed here. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product or service to market is unknown at this time.