DriversEd app developer responds to Apple over pulled 'fake license' app
Though it was available on the App Store for two years, once the free "License" app came to the attention of a US Senator, it was doomed. Apple expunged the app from the store with little fanfare over complaints that License could be used "in a way that allows criminals to create a new identity, steal someone else's identity, or permit underage youth to purchase alcohol or tobacco illegally," according to Senator Bob Casey.
DriversEd.com, developer of License, has issued a press release specifically addressing this concern. "DriversEd.com specifically and deliberately designed the app to prevent the creation of counterfeit identification," the release states. "By design, it would take more effort and expertise to modify the product of the DriversEd.com 'Driver License' app than to construct a counterfeit from scratch."
In fact, with a low resolution of 72 DPI and "design elements [that] deliberately do not correspond to government issued ID," such as "'MOCK by DriversEd.com' in proximity to the word 'license,' " it seems highly unlikely that even the most cursory glance at fake licenses generated by the program would pass scrutiny. Comparing their screenshots against my old Ohio driver's license I can tell you that a bouncer, liquor store owner, or TSA agent would pretty much have to be legally blind to confuse a printed copy of a License-generated fake with the real deal.
Not only are the colors, layout, and font all wrong on these License-generated fakes, but modern licenses are laminated, contain embedded holograms, and have many other security features designed to defeat counterfeiters. DriversEd.com believes Apple "pulled the app prematurely," and it's hard to argue with them.
Oakland, California, Dec. 12, 2011
DriversEd.com today issued the following statement:
In response to a letter from Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Apple has pre-emptively pulled DriversEd.com's free "Driver License" application from the Apple Store. Senator Casey's concern is that the DriversEd.com "Driver License" app might "facilitate lawbreaking," by giving users access to a "...high quality image resembling an actual drivers' license." The DriversEd.com "Driver License" app's output is only 72 dpi, which is in fact the same resolution as the $10,000 Mitt Romney Bill released today by the Democratic National Committee. DriversEd.com specifically and deliberately designed the app to prevent the creation of counterfeit identification. "By design, it would take more effort and expertise to modify the product of the DriversEd.com 'Driver License' app than to construct a counterfeit from scratch," says Founder and Chief Operating Officer Gary Tsifrin.
Since 2009, the DriversEd.com "Driver License" free app has allowed users to put their faces on a low-res mockup of their state's license. The app is a digital-age version of using a photo booth at the beach. The product of using the DriversEd.com "Driver License" app cannot be mistaken for a fake ID because the design elements deliberately do not correspond to government issued ID. DriversEd.com designed the app to incorporate obvious layout differences, font and color discrepancies, and the words "MOCK by DriversEd.com" in proximity to the word "license." The DriversEd.com "Driver License" app contains none of the security features of a modern government issued ID. (For the security features modern driver's licenses contain and a brief, non-comprehensive inventory of the ways the DriversEd.com app did not incorporate those features, please see the fact sheet on DriversEd.com.) The app was carefully designed to provide a fun glimpse of what it would look like to have a driver's license of your own from any of the fifty states, but a deliberately inaccurate version. That's why DriversEd.com offered it for free, and marketed it in the "Game Zone" on the DriversEd.com site.
In contrast to the fun "Driver License" app, DriversEd.com's core education mobile app is a full-featured test-preparation suite, which Apple featured in the app store (http://driversed.com/games/drivers-ed-iphone-app.aspx?navtr=topnav) and is also available for Android.
DriversEd.com strongly supports Senator Casey's goal to maintain the integrity of government issued ID. As driver's education professionals, we work closely with state regulatory agencies, schools and families toward public safety on America's roads and highways. National security requires trustworthy, secure identification, and any resource that threatens the integrity of that identification should be shut down. However, in the words of Gary Tsifrin, "the DriversEd.com 'Driver License' app absolutely did not allow anyone to manufacture a fake driver's license, and we believe Apple pulled the app prematurely. We hope that in light of these facts Apple will take one more look at the DriversEd.com 'Driver License' app."
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