Senator Briefly Brings Fake Driver's License App To The Public Eye Before Having It 'Taken 'Round Back And Shot'

from the i-hate-this-therefore-no-one-else-can-have-it dept

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has taken virtual pen in hand and crafted a letter to Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, in order to provide free advertising for warn him about a possibly “rogue” app that allows iPhone users to create phony drivers’ licenses.

He has a lot to say in his full page ad overly concerned email concerning “Drivers License” and waxes effusively about all the fun terrible things that could possibly happen should the app fall into the wrong hands. It’s not simply a matter of a couple of kids going on a beer run. No, the “Drivers License” app could quite possibly tear down this great nation. From the inside.

Dear Mr. Cook:

I write to express my concern with “License” by, an application available for download in Apple’s App Store which can be used to create counterfeit identity documents. I believe this application poses a threat to public safety and national security, and I request that you remove it from the App Store immediately.

Sure, to the average iPhone user (who, until today, had most likely never even heard of this app), this piece of software looks like a clever little distraction that could be used to crank out replica IDs, only with cleavage, buttocks or buttock cleavage in place of the usual mug shot. Or perhaps the average user might whip up a couple of fake IDs for their 10-year-old twins in the interest of making them easier to tell apart.

Bob Casey sees it another way. The only purpose this app serves is to grease the wheels of a multitude of criminal and terrorist enterprises.

By downloading “License”, anyone with an iPhone or iPad can easily manufacture a fake driver’s license by taking a photo and inserting it into one of fifty state driver’s licenses’ templates. Users then have a high quality image resembling an actual driver’s license which they can easily print, laminate, and use for any number of illegal and fraudulent activities.

Waitwaitwaitwaitwait. … what?

I may not have done any actual research on this, but I’m fairly sure laminated state IDs went the way of the mimeograph machine and the Fourth Amendment. I’m guessing the only place a laminated ID is valid is at the community college book store and even then, the student discount does not apply to textbooks.

Today’s typical state ID is a modern marvel, chock-full of holograms, magnetic strips and a thinly disguised Mark of the Beast.* It takes a bit more than some purloined office supplies to create a passable fake these days and your average inkjet just isn’t up to the task.
*Bible Belt only.

Moving on:

While markets the app as a fun game, it can also 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.

Once again, if a laminated fake is out there living your life in a ways you only dreamt possible, your beef is with those who accepted a laminated printout as a legitimate form of identification, not with the app that helped create this faux-you that went out skydiving/dynamite purchasing. This includes the staff at the bottle shop who have just become both everyday heroes and easy marks for hundreds of thirsty (and previously smoke-free) teenagers.

But the real issue here (among several other equally real issues, except that this is truly the REAL issue) is the threat this app poses to America!

National security systems depend on the trustworthiness of driver’s licenses, yet with a counterfeit license created by this app, a terrorist could bypass identity verification by the Transportation Security Administration, or even apply for a passport.

Good lord! This isn’t an app! It’s an all-in-one terrorist creation kit! Your (probably) non-local terrorist need do nothing more than sign a 2-year contract with a cell phone company, download and install the app, take a couple of headshots, take a couple more headshots with Instagram for old-time lulz and then it’s off to the explodey races!

But Bob isn’t done yet. It’s back to the original “real” problem:

By assisting in the creation of counterfeit driver’s licenses, “License” threatens to ease deception by criminals and contribute to the rising problem of identity theft. Given these risks, I request that you remove this application from the App Store immediately, as well as any other available applications that allow users to create, steal or alter false identities.

So… all photo apps need to be deleted? Any photo editing software? Anything that could pull up a template or reference image for photo IDs? Like say, browser software? How about the built-in camera, Bob? Should that be removed as well? After all, it does take pictures, and as we have seen, a facial photo is the gateway drug to corrupting minors, racking up Mom’s JC Penny card and attempting to detonate underwear bombs.

The best part about this overwrought letter? Thousands of people who had no idea something this much fun/trouble was available in the app store are now being informed that yes, such a thing exists and here’s the link to purchase it. [No longer available. See below.] Does it ever occur to people like Senator Casey that maybe, just maybe, if no one else is worked up about something that maybe the best thing you could do, as a person in a position of power, is just let it go? Otherwise, Sen. Barbra, this is the sort of thing that happens. Everyone thinks you’re ridiculous and the app in question enjoys a spike in popularity.

The lesson is: if you want to see something you’d like to get rid of go viral instead, just throw your weight around and start cranking out blustery emails to corporate CEOs.


And Apple has killed the app. I suppose with millions of other apps still for sale there’s no reason to make a stand for a single app. That doesn’t make it any less disappointing to find out that with the right name signed to the bottom of a misguided letter is all it takes to get someone else’s craftwork killed. I guess the real lesson is: if you want to see something you’d like to get rid of go viral instead, just throw your weight around and start cranking out blustery emails to corporate CEOs.

Senator Casey takes a moment to congratulate himself over at his website:

“I urged Apple to take the responsible step of removing this dangerous app, and I’m pleased that the app is no longer available in the store,” Senator Casey said. “As Pennsylvania and states across the country deal with the rising problem of identity theft, tools that facilitate breaking the law should not be available to potential criminals.”

Roughly translated:

“I overreacted to something and now it is gone. We still have our work cut out for us dealing with the rising problem of identity theft and I am sure that pulling this app has done little to nothing towards fighting that problem. Instead, it has given the office of the Senator the appearance of Having Done Something, and in the end, isn’t that what really matters?”


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Comments on “Senator Briefly Brings Fake Driver's License App To The Public Eye Before Having It 'Taken 'Round Back And Shot'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, drivers licenses are not easy to forge. Not if the person looking at it knows what to look for. It’s just that most people only take a quick look at the front and say, “OK”, but drivers licenses have many features that make them hard to force in the hands of someone who knows what to look for.

For instance, they generally have very small micro – printing that takes a good magnifying glass to find and even then it can be difficult to find without looking hard. Even high resolution scanners can’t easily focus on this micro printing and high resolution printers can’t easily replicate it.

Putting them under a UV light often reveals an encoded message.

Also, drivers licenses generally have a black strip across their vertical edges, it prints halfway into the edge (not the corner, but in the middle of the vertical edge if you turn the license sideways). Most printers can’t easily emulate that since they can’t easily print halfway in between a page’s edge.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem is that many people are unaware of these security features and so not everyone knows to check for them.

John Doe says:

I had my identity stolen once...

While markets the app as a fun game, it can also be used in a way that allows criminals to create a new identity, steal someone else’s identity

I had my identity stolen once; I wondered around aimlessly not knowing who I was. After I got my identity back I was hoping someone else would steal it. After all, when it was gone I had not responsibilities, no job, nobody knew who I was. I could come and go as I please. Once I got it back people recognized me, made me report back to work, pay my bills and so on.

A Dan (profile) says:


I work for a company that detects fake IDs. Inserting a photo into a template and printing and laminating it isn’t going to pass a casual cashier’s glance (no matter how fancy your printer is). The only real sources of concern at this point are the decent fakes coming from China, decent fakes made by professional theft rings, and real licenses obtained by bribing DMV officials.

Things like this app are just a silly distraction and not causing any real harm or facilitating any real identity theft.

And you’re correct, every US state has been on solid plastic (unlaminated) licenses since 2004 or earlier.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Insider

…and real licenses obtained by bribing DMV officials

Given recent events, such as:

Would anyone care to speculate on what the cost of a “real” fake license is?

I’m going to guess that it’s within the budget of everyday criminals.

Jake says:

Actually, I can kind of see Sen. Casey’s point, even if it’s not really the app’s fault that store clerks or low-level government officials who check IDs semi-regularly are as susceptible to lapses in professionalism as the rest of us. I mean, would you always remember to look for the hologram and insist on handling the card to inspect it, even at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon?

This doesn’t excuse him lobbying Apple to unilaterally pull the app, mind you. I’m sure the developers would have been willing to modify the images enough to be visibly different from a real license even without the hologram stuff if he’d contacted them with his concerns directly instead of going over their heads.

c.David says:

Clarification: Lamination

Older state driver?s licenses and IDs (many still valid today) have a thin layer of laminate over the top of the card usually containing holograms or other security features. This is what the Senator means by lamination rather than the library card/gym membership lamination found in low quality IDs. The problem with older laminates is that they can be removed and placed on other IDs or the biographic information underneath can be altered then re-laminated.

As for the quality of state IDs, there are still some states without good quality security features and anyone can purchase holograms or magnetic strip encoders to create IDs that won?t fool professional examiners but might be good enough to get you into a bar or cash a check.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Clarification: Lamination

No need for your overthought clairification, he said “easily print, laminate and use”

I’m pretty sure what you’re talking about isn’t what the average card faker (IE: 17yr olds buying smokes and 20yr olds buying beer) is capable of with a printer and a laminating machine

Anonymous Coward says:

Over-reaction? Definitely. But he does have a point: anything that could be misconstrued for real, state-issued ID (let’s face it, there ARE idiots who could get fooled) is probably illegal. It’s just like you can’t put flashing lights on your car or paint it a certain way “just for fun”. A technicality, but there was no need to broadcast it like it was some major achievement. A discreet email would have sufficed; this makes Casey look like an idiot making a mountain out of a molehill.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Missing the real point threat

Sure, good on Sen. Casey for taking a courageous stand against identity theft, but he’s missing the app that’s the real threat.

There’s a game in the app store right now that teaches suicide bombing! Thanks to Apple’s negligence children, some in this very country, are being taught to kill capitalist pigs by sacrificing wave after wave of martyrs in order to bring their buildings down upon them! It’s a despicable cartoonified 9/11 over and over again! When is Sen. Casey going to put an end to this?

Anonymous Coward says:

Who needs an app?

Just need a hookup at the DMV:

In September 2005, eight people, including Ronald Henry, a former police officer working for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, were arrested for issuing hundreds of Pennsylvania driver?s licenses and commercial driver?s licenses to illegal aliens using breeder documents?in this case, legitimate birth certificates from Puerto Rico?to pose as U.S. citizens. Altagarcia ?Grace? Rosario, with fellow conspirators, would provide these breeder documents to Henry, who would use them to fulfill Pennsylvania identity requirements for driver?s licenses but then would falsify records indicating that driver?s license testing had been passed and that the individuals were entitled to a license.

Scooters (profile) says:

Thanks for including a direct link to this idiot’s website. I sent a message to him, topic of “Education”, and ask he get some before ever making a public statement again.

Chances are, though, since the message came from the internet, he may not take kindly to me using my real name, address, and phone number, as well as my email, because I’m not a threat to the NSA.

Then again… hold on, there’s a knock on my door…

New Mexico Mark says:

Great... just great...

The app’s been deleted from the app store, so now only ID faking, toupee bombing, pope-abusing terrorists have this “one-click(tm) to general naughtiness” app? No chance for anyone else to get in on the ground floor???

That reminds me of what my great-grandpappy used to say, “If apps are illegal, only criminals will have apps.” My great-grandpappy was a wise man and ahead of his time.

However, this does make me wonder what set Mr. Casey off on this particular rant in the first place, because that level of indignation usually means it’s something personal.

My working theory is that his youngest daughter printed, laminated, and presented to him a fake driver’s license showing she was actually a 25 year-old bleached blonde gold digger. He didn’t see the lamination or check for a hologram carefully enough and fell for it hook, line, and sinker.

Obviously he didn’t want to get caught with someone like that in his house, so he handed her the car keys and let her head off to the nearest drinkin’, carousin’, wimmin-gone-wild party with his blessing. This whole brouhaha was just fallout from his embarrassment when his wife got home and asked where their daughter was. Suddenly he realized she’s not a 25 year old gold digger, she’s actually 14 and way too young for such shenanigans. “Yeah… fool me once…”

But this isn’t limited to Mr. Casey. I, for one, am thankful this horrible app can’t fall into MY daughter’s hands. There’s no way I can memorize all the driver’s license attributes of all fifty states. With this incredibly powerful technology at her disposal my otherwise smart, responsible daughter would have at least 49 chances to fool me into believing she is:

* One of her teachers at school who just needs a “blanket permission slip for everything in perpetuity” signed
* A little old man who only drives 35 miles an hour and wants to borrow my car for the weekend so he can take it in for an oil change and tune-up
* A refugee from the planet Alderaan who barely escaped before her planet was destroyed and for some unknown reason needs to borrow my credit card in order to get outfitted in the latest cool teen fashions. (Actually, I’d catch on to that one, because cheap knock-offs of Alderaanian Class I Landspeeder licenses are SO obvious.)

And that’s just my daughter. Heaven only knows what this software could have enabled less responsible people to do if left unchecked. I feel safer already.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Other than the fact that the maker of the app says the “license” is an obvious fake which is hard to print and is pretty much useless as a piece of fake ID.

Even if it wasn’t I suspect that it would do less to bring on terrorists than to add a few hundred thousand candidates for shows like “Canada’s Worst Drivers” on the roads than any real sort of security threats. (Watching shows like that makes me want to start one called “Canada’s worst driving testers”.)

Licenses on both sides of our borders are plasticized have built in RFID and other junk designed to replace passports to that Canadians and Americans can move back and forth across “the world’s longest undefended border” with the ease we could before W got all concerned about false reports that the 9-11 bombers came into the USA on ferries that travel between Nova Scotia and Maine.

Made passport offices rich mind you and gave the respective federal governments a badly needed injection of cash.

informed_citizen (user link) says:

to those specifically thinik an app is a bad idea.

If I wanted to. With even mild photo editing software either on PC laptop tab or druid, a license or the like could be made. That’s not the difficult part, even if you mind your up’s and g’s and your set up is A-,a,or for the place that I had mine before I now don’t need one- A+, its not so much all that crap, its the thickness and minute (not time, like size, probably has another spelling), the edged are curved ever so slid;ethyl. And even if you find a decent graphic design center willing to work with you with “educational custom holographic stickers man”, they’re actual color scheme, the mechanics and power for starters that go in to creating those annoying bucking stickers is next to rocket science, they can fool a bouncer no doubt. I was 23 for 8 years if u catch me, but one 3 occasions they said I know something is off with this, even for out of state. And once they said you have 2 options, 1 HALLS-Police, confiscation, charges, record, reputation, etc etc etc;;; or. being that I was 13 and it never failed, they wanted my info. being that a place just a block away charged me twice as much for something 1/3 of the quality… what do u think I did? And for u innercity-minded people out there- its not snitching, they were doing the lovely youth of out democratic country a great disservice by not only volunteering to. but in fact making 300% the profit they comparably should have been due to the fluctuation in what I refer to as art, now, if youre a 13yo reading this. who happens to be able to pull off 22 just doesn’t have proof… lets see, XX was always a nice way to start a handle in my day, loverboii is rather self descriptive (and I have given up a life of crime and grime years ago, and will give that story as well. since we used to end handles the same way we started them, id go along with that and since I feel like i’m the last person with a muscle between their ears and nose that has electrostimulation from time to time, “1” would be a lovely way to end a handle/nickname if anyone was going to, oh and by the way… did u know google is ruling the world now,,, EVEN EMAIL ADDRESSES ;),
I condone nothing, information Is free. its power. And its legal, its some actions that greatly seem to be otherwise and I am against those. but as a semi-retired (im still under 25 damnit don’t think im decrepit)graphic designer whos moving into the world of cosmetology nursing aesthetics massage and some form of electrology. if theres information im familiar with first hand, I will be giving the facts to anyone whos curious, and just a little fyi for all you “UUUUGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH FAKE ID” yea a good one costs less than $20 to make, this day and age its the barcodes and shit that have to be registered which is, like anything else with patience and determination, possible. for the last time im going to reiterate, I was a 16yo run away. learned everything I could from anyone and everywhere I could. went to school. stable now, if it weren’t for just a couple of these “frowned upon” tricks tips and trade of the world. id be in a pretty shitty place right number one vow and one ill never break. First, Do Harm to None. now if this forum allows emails im a douce and need to retype, any questions or comments. feel free, , if they’re anything but inquisitive or positive, they will be added to more spam lists than you though was possible with ur “junk mail” blockers and nice-idea buttons.
Happy Holidays Everyone. If I get my wish I’ll be moving to Goa ASAP for the remainder of my days and freelance remotely.

also, for everyones safety, these aren’t my words, don’t condone their insinuation, but when everyones worried about technological this and techno that, you realize peroxide fertilizer is getting extremely easy to find in the middle of us countries, not that u can call someone using that now can u

Anonymous Coward says:


I don’t know where the author is getting their information from, but some of it is incorrect. First of all, almost every state’s (if not all) drivers license is laminated. It’s how the security features (UV, hologram) are applied.
Second, a passable fake is very easy to create. You dont need much more than an ID card printer, blank cards, a good template, and Photoshop. If you don’t have a connect for holos, then they can be simulated by applying pearlex using a custom-made stamp made with a stampmaker kit.

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