Florida considers digital driver's license, blockchain

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A bill introduced to the Florida legislature shows that the state may be planning a digital driver’s license program and considering new uses of blockchain technology by its agencies.

The current version of House Bill 1357, introduced by Republican Rep. James Grant, would create various changes related to the state’s technology processes and powers, including a revision of how the technology office collaborates with the Department of Management Services. The legislation also includes provisions for an optional “digital proofs of driver license” project and, separately, contains several mentions of blockchain, the public distributed ledger technology that backs cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and can be used for reliably maintaining other forms of sensitive information.

The legislation would require that AST “maintain and publish on its website the protocols and standards necessary for a private entity to request authorized access to an application programming interface necessary for such private entity to consume a digital proof of driver license.” An AST spokesperson told StateScoop that a digital driver’s license project would be led by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and supported by the technology office.

If the bill is passed in its current form, records secured by a blockchain ledger would be considered by the state to be in equal legal standing as any other electronic form or electronic record.

The digital driver’s license and blockchain technologies are being considered by the agency as separate concepts, the spokesperson told StateScoop.

The state also appears to have its eye on privacy as the early version of the bill also contains language specifying the role of law enforcement in a potential digital drivers license project. The bill would require that any digital proof of driver’s license be “in a format that allows law enforcement to verify the authenticity,” but also notes that “displaying a digital proof of driver license does not constitute consent for a law enforcement officer to access any other information on such device.”

If passed, the legislation would amend the chapter of the state statute that defines AST’s powers, duties and functions. The Senate side of the legislation would update the terms “breach” and “incident” as they relate to IT security, clarify the incident reporting process, and delete “obsolete” provisions in existing IT policy.

The governments of Arkansas, Virginia, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Wyoming, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., are among those exploring the viability of digital driver’s license technology, and Alabama launched a digital ID card last year for the purpose of filing tax returns.

The spokesperson said House Bill 1357, which was introduced on Jan. 8, will be coupled with Senate Bill 448, introduced by Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, in the current legislative session.

This story was updated on Jan. 17, 2018 to clarify that the blockchain and digital driver’s license technologies are being considered separately and are not part of a single potential project. Additional revisions were made on Jan. 19, 2018 for clarity.

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Blockchain, Digital Services, Emerging Technology, Florida, James Grant, Legislation, Mobility, State & Local News, States, Tech News
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