Mobilising your identity: digital driver licensing and the national identity hub

NSW is implementing a digital driver licence and identity card regime, with licence holders being able to download a digital version of the de facto national identity card onto their mobile phone for use in interactions with state and private sector bodies. This article outlines the new regime, highlights privacy aspects and forecasts emulation across other Australian jurisdictions.

In the absence of a uniform national photo identity card, such as that recurrently advocated by Pauline Hanson, most adult Australians rely on their driver licence cards, passports and other “proof of age” cards as signifiers of identity. These documents feature an image of the authorised bearer (unlike, for example, credit/debit cards), along with other information such as the individual’s name and date of birth. They are used on a daily basis in dealings with public and private sector entities, with driver licence cards for example being provided on request for scrutiny by traffic police and recognised in “100 point” identity verification schemes used by financial institutions. Use of officially issued photo ID cards is pervasive and in practice it has become increasingly cumbersome for people to operate without that ID, one reason why fake licence cards appear in case law.

The establishment of “digital driver licences” by the NSW Government will enable eligible holders to download the identity document onto a mobile phone for verification of identity as an alternative to provision of the conventional plastic card currently housed in many wallets. The NSW scheme will be emulated by other Australian jurisdictions. It is likely to gain substantial support from consumers.  However, this raises questions about privacy and offers a perspective on the national identity hub, the mechanism under the national Department of Home Affairs for sharing biometric and other data across all jurisdictions.

This is an excerpt from an article by Dr Bruce Baer Arnold, CANBERRA LAW SCHOOL.

It appears in Privacy Law Bulletin vol 15 no 7. To view the full article on Lexis Advance, click here. To subscribe to Privacy Law Bulletin, email or call us on 1800 772 772.

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