16 Jun 2010

Fears driver's licence could become identity card

9:09 pm on 16 June 2010

There are fears changes to privacy rules could lead to drivers' licences being used as de facto national identity cards.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff is proposing major changes to the rules, including allowing credit agencies to gather more information on consumers' account details.

Credit agencies would also be allowed to use a driver's licence number to avoid confusion and improve accuracy in

identifying consumers.

But Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Bott says the proposal risks turning drivers' licences into national identity cards.

He says when photographic licences were introduced, the Government assured citizens they would not be used as identity cards.

Mr Bott says as well as becoming a default identity card, drivers' licences could also become a target for identity thieves.

But Ms Shroff says to protect consumers, agencies will have to disguise or hash licence numbers in their records so the full number cannot be seen by staff.

She says agencies will also be prohibited from establishing their own database based on the licence numbers.

Submissions to the Privacy Commissioner close on 13 August.