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An Apple ID Credentials System for checkpoint security at airports shows a deep link to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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On Thursday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Checkpoint Identity Verification Mobile Identification Credential." When looking up the patent inventors, I couldn't find one listed as working for Apple. What are the odds of that? Digging deeper, all of inventors were linked to the U.S. Government "as represented by the Secretary of Homeland Security." One segment of the patent states: "Statement of Government Interest: The present invention was made by one or more employees of the United States Department of Homeland Security in the performance of official duties. The U.S. Government has certain rights in this invention."


On the surface, it would appear that Apple Pay's new ID credentials is important to the U.S. Government and Homeland Security. This patent could raise eyebrows for those who depend on Apple for privacy. Activists like Edward Snowden, who railed against Apple's photo-scanning plan, will likely find this latest connection between Apple and Homeland Security troubling.


On the flipside, having an ID Credential program should ensure that Apple is properly vetting those trying to get a digital ID so that terrorists and illegals don't get credentials they're not supposed to attain so as to protect airports and other points of entry into the U.S. and beyond. This is also crucial in creating a digital passport that other governments will need to rely on at international airports.


Apple's patent background states that staffing and computing resources are devoted to verifying the identity of a subject (also referred to herein as a user, passenger, or traveler) at a security checkpoint. Such staffing and resources are further burdened by a need for manual verification performed by an agent, who checks physical documents from the subject, and checks other sources of information available for the subject.


Such resources are even further burdened when attempting to resolve inconsistencies between a subject's travel booking/reservation information, physical documents, and/or identity information. Furthermore, the subject is burdened with a need to check-in with a travel carrier such as an airline, in addition to undergoing the checkpoint experience.


Apple's patent further notes that in an environment that supports its use, a Mobile Identification Credential (MIC) can enable a user to conveniently prove their identity. One embodiment of a MIC is a mobile driver license (mDL) issued by an official agency such as a state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).


Another embodiment of a MIC is a mobile passport. A mobile passport may, for example, be issued by the U.S. Department of State or a foreign ministry of another nation. The MIC can include various information, such as information relating to identity or privileges pertaining to the user.


The MIC itself is portable and can be provisioned to devices. Below, the device to which the MIC is provisioned is referred to hereafter as a User Mobile Identification Credential Device (UMD). The term UMD pertains to any device to which a MIC can be provisioned including, without limitation: smart watches, smart fitness bands, smart objects, smart phones, e-readers, tablet computers, smart televisions and displays, smart cameras, laptop computers, desktop computers, servers, kiosks, chips, flash drives, and USB drives.


In an embodiment, the issuer of the MIC (the MIC Issuer) may provision and issue the valid, authentic MIC to the UMD. The issuer of the MIC also may work with a MIC provider to facilitate the provisioning of the MIC to the UMD. The MIC Issuer also may work with a third party to provision the MIC to the UMD. In another embodiment, the user may provision the MIC from one device of the user to another device of the user (for example, from their desktop computer to their smart fitness band).


A MIC may be validated by an Authorizing Party (AP). In one embodiment, the AP is an official agency such as a state DMV. In another embodiment, the AP is a third party empowered by an official agency to perform such verification operations. The AP employs an Authorizing Party System (APS). The APS may provision the MIC to the UMD.


It stands to reason that this is a technical patent which covers the following:


  • MIC Transactions
  • Online MIC Transactions
  • Online MIC Transactions--Trust
  • Online MIC Transactions--Verification
  • Offline MIC Transactions
  • Offline MIC Transactions--Trust
  • Offline MIC Transactions—Verification
  • Aviation Use Cases
  • Booking
  • Booking--Passenger
  • Booking—Crew
  • Booking--Registered Traveler (RT)
  • Vetting
  • Passenger Vetting
  • Crew Vetting
  • Registered Traveler (RT) Vetting
  • Identity Verification
  • Passenger Identity Verification
  • Crew Identity Verification
  • Registered Traveler (RT) Identity Verification
  • Additional Interactions and Use Cases in the MIC Environment


Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a MIC environment #10 including a security checkpoint kiosk RPS #100 to obtain authorization of MIC user information #40 according to an embodiment. Briefly, benefits include providing an increase in the efficiency of security checkpoint operations, such as at airline security areas, by enabling a passenger (referred to alternatively as user or traveler) to prove their identity using a MIC #210.


In one embodiment, the passenger uses a Mobile Identification Credential (MIC) when booking travel reservations. In another embodiment, the passenger uses the MIC at the airport security checkpoint using kiosk RPS. Using the MIC in these ways improves the system's overall function by avoiding potential mismatches between user travel information and actual passenger information.


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In addition, the MIC provides readily-accessed, official biographic and biometric information, which reduces the need for network traffic and facilitates cross-checking with airline-supplied manifests.


Furthermore, the MIC supports automated verification of the passenger at the security checkpoint via kiosk RPS, and thereby improves utilization of security staffing resources.


In yet another embodiment, use of the MIC 210 enhances the passenger experience by reminding the passenger to check in with a travel carrier (see FIG. 2), or even by eliminating a need for the passenger to check in with an airline.


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For example, the checkpoint RPS #100 completes verification of the passenger's identity and directs the UMD #200 to prompt the user with a reminder to check in with a travel carrier. In another embodiment, the security checkpoint kiosk RPS facilitates an automated transaction to check in the passenger, or may selectively relay verified passenger information to airline data systems, travel carriers, security back ends, or other parties. In such embodiments, there is no longer a need for the passenger to separately check in with the airline.


In other embodiments, there is no need for the passenger to present a physical boarding pass at the checkpoint, because the checkpoint checks with the airline data systems for the travel status of the user independent of the physical boarding pass.


Accordingly, the MIC environment #10 enables the checkpoint to identify passengers whose physical boarding pass information is fraudulent or outdated (e.g., in situations where a passenger obtains a legitimate physical boarding pass but is subsequently added to a no-fly list, rendering that user's existing physical boarding pass obsolete).


Apple's patent FIG. 5 below illustrates a User Mobile Identification Credential Device (UMD).


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4 - FIG. 5 UMD


Apple's patent FIGS. 18 and 19 below illustrate a privacy dialog #1800 that enables interaction between a user and the UMD #200, enabling the user to grant selective consent to release of MIC user information. In embodiments, the UMD provides the privacy dialog via APS/RPS consent logic running on the UMD.


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5 umd examples


For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20210377742.


Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


In April, Patently Apple covered another patent relating to Apple developing a user authentication framework covering Digital ID, Driver License and ePassport.


10.51FX - Patent Application Bar


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