The claim: Utah is launching a digital driver’s license that tracks a wide range of personal information
Several states, including Utah, are considering or launching digital driver’s licenses that would be stored on smartphones.
Social media users, however, are airing concerns that the electronic licenses will track a wide range of personal information.
A Facebook user shared an image Oct. 30 of what appears to be a flyer about Utah’s digital driver’s license program. The flyer includes a supposed list of items the license would track, including vaccine records, financial reports, health records and more.
“Welcome the NWO to the state of Utah,” the caption of the post reads. “Thank you Gov. Spencer J. Cox. Communism will be so much easier now. Utah, is this true? Have you seen this floating around?”
A scan of the QR code on the flyer in the post leads to a blog post on the Utah Freedom Coalition’s website. USA TODAY reached out to the advocacy organization for comment.
The Facebook post, which references the concept of a “new world order,” generated more than 5,400 shares in less than a week. The image has also appeared on Instagram.
But the claim is missing context.
Utah is launching a mobile driver’s license in 2022, but it will only have the same information that is included in a physical driver’s license, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. Experts told USA TODAY there is a chance the program could expand in the future to include a wider range of information, but that hasn’t happened yet.
USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the post for comment.
Utah’s digital license includes same information as physical license
By law and policy, Utah’s mobile driver’s license only has the same data that is included in a physical driver’s license, according to Joe Dougherty, director of public affairs for the Utah Department of Public Safety.
“The Utah Driver License Division does not want and will not want to expand the app’s scope beyond driver license data,” Dougherty told USA TODAY via email. “There is no desire to commingle other government documents – fishing and hunting licenses, vaccine records, etc. – into the driver license.”
David Kelts, director of GET Group North America, the technology provider for Utah’s mobile driver’s license, confirmed the company is working with the state to allow the same information that is currently on a driver’s license to be stored on a smartphone.
Utah’s Legislature passed a bill in 2019 to require the Driver License Division to “implement electronic license certificates.” In 2020, the legislature passed an additional measure to initiate a pilot program.
The purpose of the mobile driver’s license is to offer Utahns “enhanced privacy by minimizing the amount of personal data they share,” according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.
“The citizen also controls exactly what information is shared – which will protect citizen privacy much more than plastic IDs that reveal full data,” Kelts told USA TODAY via email.
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The flyer circulating on social media suggests the digital driver’s license would track information beyond that of a physical driver’s license.
Though that has not happened yet, it could be a possibility for the future, according to Jay Stanley, an American Civil Liberties Union senior policy analyst who authored a report on privacy concerns related to digital licenses.
“I think the people who are running this program are currently conceiving of it and designing it to be narrowly targeted at driver’s license information,” Stanley told USA TODAY. “There’s a very good chance that in the future, it will expand to include a much wider variety of information.”
The Utah program will be in its pilot phase through the beginning of 2022, according to Dougherty.
“We currently have two businesses in Utah that are capable of using the mobile license as a form of ID, a grocery store and a credit union,” Dougherty said. “Two of our state-owned liquor stores will begin accepting the mobile license.”
Our rating: Missing context
Based on our research, we rate MISSING CONTEXT the claim that Utah is launching a digital driver’s license that tracks a wide range of personal information, because without additional information the claim could be misleading. Utah is launching a mobile driver’s license in 2022. It will only have the same information that is included in a person’s physical driver’s license. But experts told USA TODAY there is a possibility the digital license could expand to track other information.
Our fact-check sources:
- Utah Department of Public Safety, accessed Nov. 2, New Mobile Driver License to Offer Utahns Enhanced Privacy
- Joe Dougherty, Nov. 2, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- David Kelts, Nov. 3, Email exchange with USA TODAY
- Jay Stanley, Nov. 2, Phone interview with USA TODAY
- Jay Stanley, accessed Nov. 2, What digital driver’s licenses could mean for privacy, equity, and freedom
- Utah Freedom Coalition, accessed Nov. 2, Digital driver’s license blog post
- Associated Press, Nov. 1, Utah digital licenses don’t track vaccine data, dietary preferences
- Utah State Legislature, accessed Nov. 4, S.B. 100 Electronic Driver Licenses
- Utah State Legislature, accessed Nov. 4, S.B. 110 Electronic Driver License Amendments
- Washington Post, Oct. 11, Your driver’s license could soon live on your phone. Here’s what you should know.
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