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Illinoisans could get digital driver’s license if bill advances

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(The Center Square) – A measure that allows for your driver’s license to be digitalized is on its way to the governor for his signature.

State Rep. Kam Buckner, carried House Bill 4592, an initiative of the Illinois Secretary of State. The measure would allow the Secretary of State to issue digital ID cards and driver’s licenses that can be stored on someone’s smartphone.

Buckner said the digital ID would be convenient.

“I think this will benefit people who have got to drive a while to get to a [DMV] facility,” said Buckner. “This is really about the Secretary of State’s commitment to doubling down on security but also advancing us in a way that works for the whole state.”

Buckner expressed that physical IDs tend to be doctored and manipulated and digitizing could help correct that problem.

House Republicans raised concerns about law enforcement abusing their authority and illegally searching and seizing cell phones that house the digital ID. State Rep. Jeff Keicher asked if handing your cell phone over to law enforcement is basically consenting to a search.

“If a law enforcement agent shows up to your home and you invite them in for a cup of coffee, you’ve then consented to a search of your premises … how does that theory hold when you’re dealing with a cell phone,” said Keicher. “Say you hand your phone over in a traffic stop and a text supersedes the image [mobile ID] … Is that a legitimate search? Or is that a tainted apple of the tree?”

Buckner said language in the legislation says showing or handing your phone over to display the digital ID does not serve as authorization for law enforcement to search, view or access other data in your phone.

State Sen. Michael Hastings carried the bill in the Senate and said technology isn’t an option but a necessity.

“However you view it … it’s here and it’s evolving and we must harness technology to reduce cost, improve efficiencies, and better serve the people of our great state,” said Hastings.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy brought up concerns of the ACLU on the House floor. Some of those concerns include mobile ID needing an internet connection to be accessed, which puts people who can’t afford it at a disadvantage; and also the concerns about law enforcement having access to an individual’s phone after being presented the mobile ID.

State Sen. Rachel Ventura asked Hastings for a commitment to work with the ACLU over the 2024 summer to address their concerns.

“Against the comments from the other side of the aisle, I will say that the ACLU is not opposed to the bill,” said Hastings. “The ACLU has contacted me and the Secretary of State to have conversations and their office is always open to work with those opposed to public policy.”

The bill heads to the governor for his signature. If signed, drivers and Illinoisans can opt-in and get either digital ID or driver’s license.

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