NSW changes direction with digital driver’s licence ‘copy solution’

The NSW government has been unable to find a viable solution to allow businesses to take copies of digital driver’s licences for identity proofing purposes.

It comes just days after the introduction of new laws that put the opt-in electronic vehicle licence on equal footing with its physical counterpart.

Service NSW began developing the ‘copy solution’ at the start of this year to extend the acceptance of the digital passes beyond roadside police checks and licenced venues.

The solution was deemed necessary for businesses to confirm a person’s identity in situations that require a photocopy of a physical licence such as opening a bank account or hiring a car.

But late last week Customer service minister Victor Dominello said Service NSW had been forced to return to the drawing board after failing to find a workable solution. 

“Unfortunately we could not find a ‘copy solution’ that enhances the privacy and security settings,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“Because ultimately a – paper copy – of the DDL [digital driver’s licence] is not an end-to-end digital product … a copy solution is a paper sandwich, and therefore a short-term solution.

“We have bold ambitions for digital service delivery in NSW – and using paper in the chain won’t cut it – so we are going back to the drawing board.”

He said Service NSW is now looking at developing a ‘validation solution’ in collaboration with the banks.

Such a solution would likely prevent a repeat of the exposure of more than 54,000 scanned NSW driver’s licences, which were left on an open Amazon Web Services instance in August.

“In truth, businesses do not need to store your private information such as your address, date of birth, licence number, donor type and conditions,” Domminello said.

“Businesses essentially only need your driver’s licence as a proof of ID.

“Next month, we will start working with banks for a validation solution that involves end=to-end digital – rather than a ‘paper copy’.

“I am very much determined to land this next year.”

The setback is a blow for the government, which only days before saw laws giving the digital driver’s licence equal standing with physical licences sail through the state parliament.

The legislation ensures the digital driver’s licence can be used by customers to satisfy “any legal requirement obliging them to produce their driver’s licence”, Dominello said last month.

It also paves the way for consent-based photo sharing by licensing authorities, reducing the number of times a person will have to submit passport-style photos to the government.

Since the digital driver’s licence went live last October, more than 1.7 million people have downloaded it, or around 31 percent of all licence holders in NSW.

Service NSW had previously estimated that only around 12 percent of motorists – or just under 750,000 people – would take-up the digital option in the first 12 months.