This piece originally appeared in Reason.
In many states, Americans can now ditch their physical wallet and verify their identity simply by tapping their device on a scanner. And just as digital wallets from Apple and Google have made commerce more convenient, digital ID systems could potentially make government interactions faster and more efficient. But they also raise the ominous specter of government surveillance. Can we have the efficiency of a digital ID without letting government track our every move?
Yes, but that's not the path we're on.
Take Colorado. Since 2019, Coloradans have been able to use a digital ID as a legal form of personal identification throughout the state. Users download an application to their smartphone, enroll in the service, and have their identity authenticated by taking photos or videos of a valid ID card or other government issued documents to prove that they are who they claim to be. Then that information is encrypted, and the user is granted a digital ID and an associated key or code that serves as an identifier.