QLD to get smart licences next year

Facial recognition behind fraud crack-down

Queensland Transport has inked a five-year deal with Unisys to design and build a facial recognition and biometric matching platform for the state's smartcard drivers' licence.

Unisys would not reveal the value of the deal.

Some three million laminated drivers' licence will be gradually replaced from mid-next year with the smartcards, which will also provide access to multiple government services.

Registered clubs, car hire companies and other government agencies including Australia Post will have access to user data embedded in the licence and stored in government databases for validation of identity, address, and whether the person is allowed to drive. The cards will also provide for the automatic transfer of vehicle registration

Unisys will design some 370 image capture devices to be used in QLD Transport customer service centres, police stations and other government agencies. It will also be responsible for cross-checking new photographs with database records to detect fraud using biometric software.

QLD Transport land and safety director Judy Oswin said the smartcards will reduce the level fraud plaguing the existing laminated drivers licence.

“We have used the laminated licence design in QLD for over 20 years. The new digital licence will deliver a more secure form of driver licence documentation for Queenslanders as it is harder to forge or alter,” Oswin said in a statement.

“As a result it will help reduce the risk of identity theft to QLD licence holders and give them greater confidence that their personal licence information is being kept secure.

“It will also enable QLD Transport to deliver services in a more convenient manner as licence holders will be able to use a card reader or the [government] Web site to view, update and transact on their licence and registration themselves,” she said.

Overarching software , dubbed the Library of eID Artefacts, will monitor all components of the smartcard system to assist fraud investigations and trigger alerts if an individual is holding drivers licences under false names.

Some 10,000 handheld smartcard readers will be deployed across the state, which may include public terminals, homes, businesses, and pubs and clubs.

The licences are expected to cost about $20.

Function-creep is one of the biggest concerns with the New Queensland Drivers' Licence (NQDL) which has been in planning and development since 2003. The Australian Law Reform Commission said allowing additional agencies to access smartcard data creates significant privacy risks because of the large amount of personal data stored on the cards.

While the QLD card will shun wireless connectivity and require direct contact with readers, a German group last year cracked the popular Mifare Classic Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card by removing its chip and cutting layers away. The encryption algorithm was discovered after researchers stripped away layers and photographed the connections using a microscope.

Unisys deployed a similar smartcard for Malaysia, the MyKad identity card, which the company claims is the world’s first multi-application smartcard.

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