Dominello extends the NSW licence

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

More than half a million people registered for a digital driver licence in New South Wales in the initiative’s first week, with the state government now looking towards a broader “NSW Licence”.

The digital driver licence was launched to the public on Sunday after months of testing and trials.

Addressing the Australian Information Industry Association on Wednesday, Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello said that more than 680,000 people had already created a digital licence – more than 12 per cent of all drivers in NSW.

Along with the “extraordinary levels of adoption”, the service has also had “remarkable” feedback, Mr Dominello said, with 97 per cent of people providing feedback giving it the thumbs up.

But Mr Dominello said the NSW government is already preparing for the driver licence to become a “relic of the early 21st century”, and work is underway on an “opt-in multipurpose NSW Licence” for various services across the state.

This digital service will collate various licences, including permission to drive, to work with children and to sell alcohol.

“When your details change, you can tell government once and subject to your express consent, your details will be updated with every agency you grant permission to. In this way, when you apply for an additional permit from government to undertake a given activity, your details are filled automatically,” Mr Dominello said.

“This is not a vision we will achieve overnight. It is a path paved with many obstacles to overcome, from the underlying technology, to the legislative changes, to achieving it in a way that is truly opt-in and designed around privacy.”

The secret to the early success of the digital driver licence was to “design big, but build small”, Mr Dominello said, with trials conducted in Dubbo, the Eastern suburbs and Albury before more testing with staff at the Department of Customer Service.

In total, more than 20,000 people took part in these trials, with a focus also on the groups checking the ID.

Since the launch, the state has been getting “unparalleled visibility” through real-time statistics and data, with engineers making changes to the product “throughout the night”.

Mr Dominello said that privacy and security has been a core focus for the government throughout the development of the service, with three privacy assessments completed.

He said that while the app doesn’t collect any personal information and doesn’t track, store or share the user’s location, the same restrictions may not apply to third parties that view the ID.

Because of this, Australia needs updated privacy laws that fall into line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Rule, Mr Dominello said.

“In Europe they have introduced the GDPR which significantly improves privacy settings for everyone, including third parties. Given the digital maturity and ambition for our country, there is a strong case to look around carefully at what can be done to strengthen the privacy protections for citizens,” he said.

“Getting this right will both protect citizens and better support cross-border trade. I have no doubt that it will eventually happen in Australia – but the question is: will we be on the front foot or the back foot?”

He added that the service has been through multiple rounds of security testing and audits, and Service NSW has also recently launched a bug bounty program for the digital driver licence.

NSW is now working with other states and territories on interstate acceptance of the digital offering, with further amendments to the legislation required. It is also working on further use cases for the ID, such as at the airport or renting a car.

“There is a broad and growing ecosystem for potential uses for the digital driver’s licence and we want to proactively support that ecosystem to work at the same pace so they can accept the DDL,” Mr Dominello said.

The minister will be providing another detail updated on the digital driver licence at the same forum in three months, while the NSW government will be launching its digital strategy later this month.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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