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
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 DriversEd.com, 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.
While DriversEd.com 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. PREPRESS UPDATE: 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."
"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?"