Digital identification may become an acceptable form of REAL ID in some states. Whether Connecticut, which has teased the rollout of digital IDs in the past, will be among them is unclear.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently announced it is proposing to amend REAL ID regulations, temporarily waiving requirements that digital driver’s licenses or identification cards be compliant with REAL ID to be accepted by federal agencies for official purposes, such as boarding an airplane.

REAL ID was passed by the REAL ID Act in 2005 based on a recommendation from the 9/11 Commission that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.” REAL ID requirements were originally slated to go into effect in 2008 but have been pushed back several times. All states plus the District of Columbia began issuing REAL ID-compliant IDs in 2020. TSA was slated to begin accepting only REAL ID on May 3, 2023, but pushed the enforcement date back to May 7, 2025, in late 2022.

Connecticut first offered residents REAL ID compliant IDs in 2011.

TSA’s latest proposal to accept non-REAL ID compliant mobile IDs is part of an “incremental, multi-phased rulemaking that will culminate in the promulgation of comprehensive requirements for State issuance of REAL ID-compliant mobile driver’s licenses and mobile identification cards.”

TSA will define state-issued mobile IDs in reference to the REAL ID Act and establish a temporary waiver process to accept them from states that have obtained a waiver. Residents of those states with waivers who have obtained REAL-ID compliant mobile IDs would be able to utilize them when enforcement of the law begins on May 7, 2025.

To obtain a waiver, states would have to submit an application showing their mobile REAL IDs meet “specified requirements, drawn from 19 industry and government standards guidelines” covering areas such as communication, digital identity, encryption, cybersecurity, and network system security and privacy.

TSA claims the proposed rule will encourage states to develop more secure mobile IDs. In the Federal Register notice announcing the proposed rule, the agency expressed concern that without it “individual states may choose insufficient [mobile ID] security and privacy safeguards that fail to meet the security purposes of REAL ID requirements and the privacy needs of users.” They allege the proposed rule would address those concerns.

Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has previously responded to a request for information on the proposed rulemaking and expressed interest in a need for standardization or federal guidance on mobile IDs, as well as the potential benefits to the public of mobile ID development, and the appropriateness of using several international standards as a starting point for regulatory requirements.

Connecticut has taken steps towards making mobile IDs available in the past.

In 2021, Apple announced it was working with several states to allow users to add their driver’s license or state ID to the Wallet app on their iPhone and Apple Watch. Arizona and Georgia were the first states to introduce this feature, with Connecticut being among the states that were supposed to follow.

However, the rollout of those digital IDs has yet to happen in Connecticut.

The Connecticut DMV did not respond to a request for comment about whether they have any plans to submit a proposal for a waiver that would allow state residents to obtain REAL ID compliant digital IDs.

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An advocate for transparency and accountability, Katherine has over a decade of experience covering government. She has degrees in journalism and political science from the University of Maine and her...

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