​Blockchain behind NSW digital driver licence play

Secure Logic's blockchain-based TrustGrid platform used to underpin the state-wide digital licence roll-out.

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The New South Wales government recently announced it would be kicking off a metro trial of a digital driver licence in November across Sydney's Eastern Beaches, allowing more than 140,000 licence holders in the region to ditch the plastic identification card for a smartphone-rendered copy, available via the Service NSW app.

The trial expands a pilot in Dubbo late last year that allowed participants to use their digital driver licence for proof of identity and proof of age to gain entry into pubs and clubs, as well as for roadside police checks.

On Monday, launching a blockchain solution designed to underpin the digitisation of government services, Australian data security company Secure Logic revealed its platform had been used to underpin the digital driver licence, enabling the state-wide roll-out of the digital identification play, with its tech used in both the Dubbo and the upcoming Eastern Beaches trials.

Secure Logic CEO Santosh Devaraj said driver's licences are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the transformation of the public service and that he expects new technologies will significantly change how people interact with government over the next decade.

"The era of standing in line to file government paperwork is coming to an end, as is our reliance on physical identification cards to establish your identity or proof of age with law enforcement or at licensed venues. These are mistake prone, time-consuming, expensive, and impractical ways to offer services," Devaraj said.

According to the company, TrustGrid is an advanced blockchain solution that delivers a secure, decentralised, and immutable ledger of transactions. It enables government agencies and vetted private organisations such as hospitals and financial institutions to create private consortiums of trust entities on the fly.

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Highlighting the technology's potential application across motor registration, birth and death certificates, medical records, property titles, and HSC, TAFE, and other academic results, Secure Logic believes its platform has the potential to address many of the concerns over the digitisation of private information, in particular the federal government's contentious My Health Record.

"While it's positive to see government pursue a platform that has the potential to save lives, people are right to be concerned about how their sensitive data is stored and could be exploited by hackers," Devaraj continued.

"Rather than a black and white method of opting 'in or out', TrustGrid could enable each individual to set the terms of their own digitised contract that governs exactly what personal information is disclosed through fine-grained consent and encryption policies."

The digital driver's licence trial follows the passage of legislation earlier this year to enable the state-wide rollout of the technology.

Amendments to the Road Transport Act 2013, the Photo Card Act 2005, the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007, and the Liquor Act 2007 allow a driver to use their digital licence for proof of identity and proof of age to be used where the physical card previously was.

The state government made the first wave of its digital licences available through the "My Licences" digital wallet in the Service NSW app in late 2016, which enables NSW residents to renew their licence and update their details without needing to visit a Service NSW centre.

The rollout of the technology is still subject to an implementation plan, but once rolled out, the digital driver's licence will join the recreational fishing, responsible service of alcohol, and responsible conduct of gambling competency cards in the digital wallet. NSW residents are already able to renew their driver's licence and view, pay, and contest infringement notices via the Service NSW smartphone app.

South Australians have had the option to hold digital driver's licences on their phones since September.

The SA app presents driver's licences in real time, with expired or suspended licences showing a large orange or red bar at the bottom. It also has a "shake to animate" feature to show the licence is not a photo or a screenshot -- the screenshot function is actually disabled within the app.

The app generates a one-time barcode, which refreshes every 30 seconds, to prevent counterfeit licences from being used. Anyone, including pubs and clubs, can scan the licences to ensure that they are genuine.

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