Stability issues forced NSW to delay digital driver's licence launch

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Stability issues forced NSW to delay digital driver's licence launch

Additional assurances were needed.

Stability issues with the NSW government’s prized digital driver’s licence platform forced Service NSW to push back the planned state-wide rollout last month.

Fronting budget estimates on Thursday, Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello revealed the concerns had ultimately lead to the decision to delay the full launch.

While trials of the opt-in digital permit continue in three metropolitan and regional locations, the government had originally said the licence would become available to all citizens in August.

“We had to make sure that the systems were ready to go. I was not confident that they were ready to go at that point,” he said.

“We want to make sure that we get [the digital driver’s licence] right.”

Asked to detail his concerns with the electronic vehicle licence, Dominello said “just stability in relation to the system”.

He also ruled out security issues with the platform as being behind the delay after sustained questioning from Labor MP Peter Primrose.

But providing further information on the reason for the delay, Service NSW chief Damon Rees suggested security had been one of a number of considerations.

“The focus for the digital driver licence program has been making sure we protect people's personal information, making sure we protect people's privacy, making sure the system is stable and available when people need it and that inherent risk that we see with plastic licences, which is that people attempt to reproduce them,” he said.

“We have laid an additional set of assurances, checks and balances and independent inspection to make sure that we understand those things well.”

Service NSW currently expects the rollout will take place sometime in “late 2019”, though a spokesperson told iTnews earlier this month that the rollout would occur “in the coming weeks”.

However, on Thursday, Dominello repeatedly declined to confirm whether the system would be ready for launch this year.

“The Service NSW website states that it will occur in late 2019. Is that correct or not? Primrose asked.

“It will happen very soon. I have a very clear indication of when that will be,” Dominello replied.

Expected take-up

Based on the success of the trials over the last two years, Service NSW is expecting hundreds of thousands of citizens to take up the new digital passes in the first 12 months after launch.

“We are projecting potentially—we are basing our assumptions on a 12 per cent take-up,” Rees said.

“We have got some information through the pilot to inform us, but the pilot is only ... semi-representative of what we should expect across the broader public.”

With around 6.2 million drivers in NSW, according to the latest statistics from NSW’s Roads and Maritime Services, this would put the expected take-up at just under 750,000.

More than 14,000 citizens are already using the digital driver’s licence on the Service NSW app for police checks and to gain access to pubs and clubs in the trial areas.

Dubbo was the first regional city to take part in the trial in late 2017, followed by Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs last year and the border city of Albury earlier this year.

While participants of the pilot are still required to carry their physical driver's licence, the full rollout will see citizens able to produce either a digital or physical version of their licence when requested.

The digital driver's licence is said to better protect citizen against identity fraud, with the pass “encrypted and stored securely on a person’s device”.

Digital holograms are also used to make the digital permit easy to identify.

Rees said there had been “no identified examples of either fraud or personal data breach” during the course of the pilots over the last two years.

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