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With its latest patent, Apple wants to replace passport with iPhones as proof of identity

Apple now wants to use the iPhone as a form of identification of the user, instead of the prevailing passport system. Apple recently has filed a patent application on ‘Document importation into secure element’, where a system has to import credential data from a source. The same credential can then be provided to the authority, challenging the identity of the device owner as a form of proof.

The device will have a short range radio, RFID and a secure element to hold, process data, the device acquires the credential information from an identification authority, then issues a radio-based request to the issuing authority and stores the credential information in a secure element.

In future, the device will be asked for the credentials by the authority, triggering the device to perform an authentication with the user. On the successful authentication data is handed over to the respective party. Apple suggests to handover a passport number to perform the same check.

The patent application also cites the growing use of e-Passports, which will include a chip that holds all the information of the user, from which the customs department can verify the credentials of the user. Such a system could be used by corporate companies to authenticate the employees entering their facility.

Users traveling to a different country will still need to carry documents with them. As Apple Inc. would need to the backing of both the countries, to allow the iPhone as a replacement for passport. The suggestion for the passport is feasible, but legislation becomes the main block.

Apple files a large number of patents to the USPTO every week, but it’s never a guarantee that all the submitted ideas make way into the commercial market, Though most of the components required for the respective device are already in place.