Sept. 1, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lawmakers (App)lying Pressure

CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Bob Casey got Apple to remove an app from its store that allowed users to make mock driver's licenses.

If you wondered what your cat would look like in a driver’s license, you can blame Sen. Bob Casey for missing the chance to find out.

Before last month, you could have used the “License” app from DriversEd.com on your Apple device to insert pictures in low-resolution mock-ups of driver’s licenses.

Then, in December, the Pennsylvania Democrat contacted Apple CEO Tim Cook and asked that it be removed from the App Store.

In a press release from the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, the group that brought the app to Casey’s attention, Casey’s letter is quoted as saying the app “can 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. National security systems depend on the trustworthiness of driver’s licenses, yet with a counterfeit license created by the app, a terrorist could bypass identity verification by the Transportation Security Administration, or even apply for a passport.”

Because of these concerns, Casey contacted Cook, who had the app removed, ensuring that no users of Apple devices could download it.

“In areas where it’s appropriate to weigh in to protect constituents, fuel the economy or create jobs, Sen. Casey will certainly do so,” said April Mellody,   Casey’s communications director.

DriversEd.com co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Gary Tsifrin said the company was never contacted by Casey’s office or by the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License.

“On Friday evening, we received a copy of the letter from Sen. Casey’s office to Tim Cook at Apple,” Tsifrin said. “By Sunday, Apple had responded by taking the app down.”

The company has said the app was nothing more than a marketing tool used to promote its online driving instruction and that it could not be used to create believable counterfeit driver’s licenses. “I don’t think anyone who looked at the product of the app could confuse it for a government-issued ID,” Tsifrin said.

On top of that, according to Tsifrin, the app made it through Apple’s application process, meaning it did not initially violate any of Apple’s terms of service for app providers. After it was pulled, though, Apple told DriversEd.com that the app violated the terms of service by violating state laws, although Tsifrin said Apple did not cite any specific state statutes.

Tsifrin said he would have preferred  that Casey approach the company first. “It’s perfectly reasonable for a Senator to be concerned with that,” he said. But “it would have been preferable, obviously, if someone from his staff contacted us first.”

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