The NSW government has introduced legislation that will make digital driver’s licences and digital photo cards available to citizens across the state by the end of 2019.
Finance Minister Victor Dominello introduced the Road Transport and Other Legislation Amendment (Digital Driver Licences and Photo Cards) Bill 2018 in parliament yesterday.
He called it “a significant step forward in delivering on the NSW government’s commitment to digital transformation” that would provide citizens with “greater convenience, choice and security”.
The legislation will allow for the digitisation of driver licences and photo cards in NSW “on an opt-in basis”.
“Once launched, the people of NSW will be able to opt-in to receive a digital driver's licence and digital photo card,” he said.
“These will essentially constitute a digital representation of a person’s physical driver's licence or photo card.”
The bill has been informed by feedback from a trial of digital driver's licences in Dubbo over the past four months, in which 1400 residents took part.
Dominello said the four month trial had “generated very high levels of satisfaction … with a net promoter score of 83-plus”.
Under the new legislation, citizens will be responsible for ensuring they can produce either a digital or physical version of their driver licence when requested to do so by police or other law enforcement officers.
The digital licences will be available through the MyServiceNSW app in the same way that recreational fishing licences, responsible service of alcohol (RSA) competency cards, and responsible gambling competency cards are.
“If the driver's electronic device has a flat battery, a cracked screen or is in such a condition that the person checking the digital driver licence cannot read, copy or scan the digital driver licence, the driver will not have met the requirement to produce their driver licence,” Dominello said.
However the design of the digital licence, which is “encrypted and stored securely on a person’s device”, means that network blackspots aren’t an issue.
The bill also addresses privacy concerns by only requiring a driver to display their digital licence to police.
“Under the proposed amendments in the bill, a driver will not be required to give their device to an officer to display their licence.
“However, a driver may be required to assist with the reading, copying or scanning of the digital driver licence.
“This could include changing the brightness on the screen, angling the device so that it may be scanned, scrolling or tapping on the digital driver licence to show the full details, or refreshing the digital driver licence.”
Police will be able verify a digital licence by using traditional means - such as several visual security features or by radioing back to a station for more information.
Officers can also use a MobiPol device, which “scans a digital driver's licence to initiate a search against backend police systems”.
The new digital licences are also expected to hand citizens “more control and transparency over how the personal information of their licence is shown and shared with others”.
“The reality is that a digital driver licence or digital photo card brings a multitude of additional benefits and protections of users,” he said.
Dominello pointed to the “major inconvenience” of having to replace a physical licence after losing it, which a digital driver's licence would avoid.
“Say you lose your phone that has your digital driver's licence on it … as soon as you know your phone has been lost or stolen you can log into Service NSW and cancel your digital driver's licence on that device,” he said.
“You will even know if it is used by someone who is not you as you will have access to an activity log, just like you have with your Opal card.
“This tangible security and fraud benefit comes with the digital driver's licence and simply is not available with the physical card.”
Update Wednesday 23 May: The bill passed through both house of parliament unamended.