Cox, a Republican, signed House Bill 470, a law that requires the Division of Technology Services (DTS), the main information technology service provider for the state government and an agency within the Department of Government Operations, to provide recommendations on how to issue a statewide digital ID system via distributed-ledger technology, also known as the blockchain. (Related: Senate committee passes bill creating national digital ID system, but they will never require it for voting.)
The DTS will also be recommending policies to make sure the personal privacy of Utahns who sign up for digital IDs is protected. These recommendations will be properly communicated to the state's primary government operations privacy officer, Christopher Bramwell, and the state's privacy officer, Whitney Phillips.
Alan Fuller, the state's chief information officer, noted that one possible way the DTS can create secure and trustworthy digital credentials through the blockchain involves inputting cryptographic codes that let ID issuers and holders be verified by state-recognized entities and programs.
Fuller added that the pilot program will focus on "non-primary" credentials, such as county permits for food handlers.
In addition to providing recommendations for a digital ID and being in charge of the entire pilot program, the DTS will also submit a report on its progress with the digital records to the State House Interim Committee on Public Utilities, Energy and Technology by the end of October.
Thad Rueter, writing for the magazine Government Technology, warned that if the Utah government's metrics for the DTS's pilot program show that it was a success, it could pave the way for more digital ID systems, especially ones that rely on the blockchain.
Observers of Utah's pilot program are interested to see the specific applications the digital IDs will be used in.
"With the state having passed age verification for access to social media, that could be an interesting use case for verified credentials in Utah," said Zack Martin, senior policy adviser for cybersecurity services at the law firm Venable LLP.
Martin added that he is also interested to see if the blockchain-verified credentials of Utahns will conform to standards that would make these digital IDs useful for out-of-state business and activities, such as opening a bank account.
Utah is not the first state to launch a digital ID program. The state has already offered digital driver's licenses on smartphones since March 1.
Furthermore, iPhone users in Arizona, Colorado and Maryland can use digital licenses with the app Apple Wallet to carry digital driver's licenses. Maryland residents can also use Google Wallet to hold digital licenses if they use Android devices.
Digital driver's licenses will be coming in the next few months or years to Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. But Utah is the first state to try out the effectiveness of using blockchain technology to store digital ID data.
Watch this clip from InfoWars as Alex Jones discusses President Joe Biden's push for a national digital ID system.