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Apple pulls fake driver’s license app under pressure

Congress viewed it as national security threat

- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2011

Computer giant Apple Inc. yielded to congressional pressure Monday and pulled a program from its online App Store that enabled users to create high-quality fake driver's licenses.

Sen. Robert Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, said he was "pleased" that the company had taken "the responsible step of removing this dangerous app."

Mr. Casey last week wrote to Tim Cook, CEO of the California-based firm, calling the app — short for application or small software program — "a threat to public safety and national security."

Although it was marketed as "a fun game," the app also "allows criminals to create a new identity, steal someone else's identity or permits underage youth to purchase alcohol or tobacco illegally," Mr. Casey added.

Vital national security systems such as passenger checkpoints at airports also "depend on the trustworthiness of driver's licenses," Mr. Casey added.

The app enabled anyone who downloaded it to their iPhone or iPad to paste electronically a digital photo and any biographical details into a template for any state's driver's license.

With a color printer and a laminating machine, the app could be used to create high-quality fake identification documents, said Brian Zimmer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, a group that advocates tougher security measures in state-issued IDs.

Even high tech anti-fraud features such as holograms used by many state also can be forged, the group said. At least four states do not use any technology that would detect an app-generated fake license, the group said.

The group asked Apple in April to pull the app.

"It is long overdue that Apple removed the license app from its App store," Mr. Zimmer said Monday. "It seems that it took fear of congressional oversight to motivate them."

He added that the app has been downloaded "tens of thousands of times," and those who downloaded the app can continue to use it.

The app was developed by DriversEd.com in Oakland, Calif., and offered by the App Store in December 2009, according to the company's website.

The website says the app "lets users see how their actual driver's license might look."

"Make a face, take a picture with friends, and go crazy! You can change all the personal info, too, so the possibilities are endless," the site says.

Neither DriversEd.com nor Apple responded to email and telephone requests for comment Monday.

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