Agreements reveal Apple’s requirements for US states launching digital IDs in Wallet

Apple Wallet with digital ID on iPhone and Apple Watch
STATE ID: The agreements show Apple has a ‘high degree of control’ over government agency ID issuance

Memorandums of agreement between Apple and some of the US states due to offer digital identity documents in Wallet reveal that the states are required to cover the cost of systems for issuing the digital credentials and that Apple retains control over when the service launches, which devices are compatible with it and the right to review and approve how it is marketed.

The agreements also require state bodies to promote the service in all public-facing communications about digital IDs, “proactively” offer it to citizens applying for or renewing ID documents at no additional cost, and work with Apple to encourage state and federal government agencies to accept the digital credentials.

Details of the agreements made with states including Georgia and Arizona have emerged as a result of public record requests made by media outlets including business news channel CNBC.

“The seven-page memorandum of agreement, obtained through public record requests from CNBC and other sources, mostly portrays Apple as having a high degree of control over the government agencies responsible for issuing identification cards,” CNBC says.

“Apple has ‘sole discretion’ for key aspects of the program, including what types of device will be compatible with the digital IDs, how states are required to report on the performance of the effort, and when the program is launched, according to the documents. Apple even gets to review and approve the marketing that states are required to do.”

“The company requires states to maintain the systems needed to issue and service credentials, hire project managers to respond to Apple inquiries, prominently market the new feature and push for its adoption with other government agencies, all at taxpayer expense, according to contracts signed by four states,” the broadcaster adds.

States will also have to “allocate reasonably sufficient personnel and resources” to support the launch of the digital IDs according to “a timeline determined by Apple” and carry out performance testing “in accordance with Apple’s certification requirements”.

Responsibility shift

“Importantly, in its contract, Apple shifts responsibility for confirming the authenticity of user identities onto states: ‘Apple shall not be liable for any Verification Results, and Agency acknowledges that all Verification Results are provided ‘AS IS’ and without any warranty, express, implied or otherwise, regarding its accuracy or performance,’” CNBC says.

According to analyst Jason Mikula, who has also seen the agreements made with Arizona and Georgia, “states also agree to terms that make it nearly impossible to terminate the program in the future.

“Per the two MOAs reviewed, the state agencies that have entered into them can only terminate them with Apple’s consent or for cause — if Apple breaches the terms of the agreement and doesn’t remedy within 30 days.”

Apple announced in September that eight US states — Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah — have confirmed that they are adding support for Apple digital IDs.

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