Apple Store Driver's License Counterfeiting App Poses Public Safety, National Security Risk
April 4, 2011
Mr. Scott Forstall
Senior Vice President, iPhone Software
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Dear Mr. Forstall:
I am writing with grave concern regarding the public safety and national security risks posed by the application “License” by Driversed.com which is distributed by your company for use with the Apple iPhone. On behalf of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, I request that you remove the application from Apple’s App Store. You will note that this letter is copied to the Congressional committees of jurisdiction. My intent is to make them aware of the threats posed by this application. I hope it will lead them to make inquiries to the federal agencies who are responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting the counterfeiting of state issued driver’s licenses and identity documents.
There is no reason for anyone to use the application except to create a driver’s license to be used as an identity document that misrepresents biographical information about the possessor. The logical presumption, since so many of the users of “free applications” available from the Apple App Store are young people, is that application users will primarily use the application to create identity cards in order to disguise their actual age.
With fake driver’s licenses created through the “License” application, people younger than 18 will buy tobacco products. Likewise, those under 21 will disguise their age in order to violate state liquor control laws. So the “License” application will offer the millions of young people who use Apple products the temptation to drink or smoke underage. This application is completely inconsistent with Apple’s corporate image, and at odds with public health policy.
But there are many others who will predictably want to use the “License” application to break the law in ways that endanger public safety, and possibly homeland security.
A driver’s license is the preferred form of identification for governments and businesses alike. They are used to prove one’s identity for a variety of purposes ranging from employment eligibility to applying for a Passport to proving one’s age. A convicted sex offender may use a counterfeit driver’s license to establish a new identity to avoid state registration laws. A minor may use a counterfeit driver’s license to purchase alcohol or cigarettes.
And the 9/11 Commission determined that foreign terrorists sought to obtain driver’s licenses to obscure their nationality while they attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Khalid Aldawsari, a Saudi national recently apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, plotted to use multiple driver’s licenses to carry out his attacks. An employer may unwittingly employ an undocumented immigrant who used a counterfeit driver’s license to remain in the United States beyond his authorized period of stay, and consequently be subject to fines for violating state or federal labor laws.
Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities depend on the security of driver’s licenses. The Transportation Security Administration uses driver’s licenses of air travelers to verify their identity. State and local law enforcement use driver’s licenses for a variety of purposes such as proving an individual’s eligibility to operate a motor vehicle.
State governments spend millions of dollars every year on improving the physical security features and adjudication processes of their driver’s licenses. State driver’s licenses contain a number of physical security features, both covert and overt, designed to be counterfeit resistant and provide clear markers to verify its validity.
Unfortunately, the “License” application dramatically increases the risk of fraud. The application provides users with templates of driver’s licenses from all 50 states and allows the user to insert any photo and biographic information they choose. A card laminating machine, costing as little as ten dollars, would allow individuals to make reliable counterfeit licenses for at a very low cost.
Additionally, it appears that someone using the “License” application is in violation of one or more of the following sections of Title 18 1028 of the United States Code:
(a) Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (c) of this section—
(1) knowingly and without lawful authority produces an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document;
(2) knowingly transfers an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without lawful authority;
(3) knowingly possesses with intent to use unlawfully or transfer unlawfully five or more identification documents (other than those issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication features, or false identification documents
(4) knowingly possesses an identification document (other than one issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication feature, or a false identification document, with the intent such document or feature be used to defraud the United States;
(5) knowingly produces, transfers, or possesses a document-making implement or authentication feature with the intent such document-making implement or authentication feature will be used in the production of a false identification document or another document-making implement or authentication feature which will be so used;
(6) knowingly possesses an identification document or authentication feature that is or appears to be an identification document or authentication feature of the United States or a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance which is stolen or produced without lawful authority knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without such authority;
(7) knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connection with, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law; or
(8) knowingly traffics in false or actual authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification;
shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) The punishment for an offense under subsection (a) of this section is—
(1) except as provided in paragraphs (3) and (4), a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 15 years, or both” [Continues with other punishment descriptions]
It would be prudent for you to refer this letter to your corporate counsels, to determine whether the free distribution of the License application via the Apple App Store may make Apple liable to future litigation from parents of children who become injured or killed after underage drinking that directly resulted from possessing a fake ID created by the “License” application. It is also possible that Apple may be breaking the law by freely distributing an application that facilitates criminal fraud. Since the application has been available through the App store since 2009, there is the potential for thousands of users to be tempted to use it to violate the laws.
As of the date of this letter, the Apple App Store indicates that there have been 2, 600 reviews. We quote from a couple of those reviews:
“I made a fake ID, that everywhere I go it work. LOL” (SIC)
“Awesome app! It really looks real. I bring mine EVERYWHERE! Get this app!”
“The ability to quickly create, edit, and print very realistic state licenses makes this app problematic. I’m surprised with the red flag rule out next May, and obvious potential for abuse that Homeland Security hasn’t asked Apple to pull this off the market. I was able to produce a Maine driver’s license identical to the real thing, and by laminating it and running (it) through the wash a few times, this would pass as a valid Maine ID unless a person took significant time to look very closely. I wonder how many terrorists, Medicare scammers, etc, will have to be caught before this app is either pulled or the vendor directed to make significant changes.” (SIC)
The Coalition for Secure Driver’s License appreciates that businesses will continue to seek out new ways to attract loyal customers. However, the distribution of free application does not absolve a business of its responsibility to conduct its business in an ethical manner. The “License” application dramatically increases the risk of fraud. On behalf of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, I urgently request that you remove the application, “License,” by DriversEd.com, immediately. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please call me at -------
D. Brian Zimmer
The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
The Honorable Bobby Scott, Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Darrel Issa, Chairman,
The Honorable Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Pete King, Chairman
The Honorable Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives
The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, Chairman
The Honorable Susan M. Collins, Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate
The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, Chairman
The Honorable Jon Kyl, Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, U.S. Senate