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Digital driver's licence for smartphones on the way

Sep 11, 2022

The Transport Agency is looking at introducing a digital driver's licence people would keep on their phones.

This is likely to require changes to both the law and a rule that prescribes the form and format licences must take, and when they have to be surrendered.

Waka Kotahi said in an Official Information Act response it has a team looking at legislative and operational fixes.

It was "at a very early stage", chief digital officer Liz Maguire said.

No privacy or risk assessments had been done yet.

A board paper on a digital strategy the agency is working on, has pictures that suggest a digital licence could include dates for when a warrant of fitness and registration are due, and what tolls have not been paid.

"A digital driver licence is a secure identification that proves you have the right to drive," the paper says.

"Having easy access to your driver licence on your smartphone means it's always on hand when you need it."

An internal email links the digital driver licence to the government's wider digital identity framework, which may launch next year and under which people would be able to access large numbers of public and private services, by first verifying their identity by submitting a photo of themselves to a biometric database that uses facial recognition. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is leading this work.

"It was interesting to discuss the impact of digital technology in the transport sector and how it's envisaged that Waka Kotahi will use DIA information to verify the information that Waka Kotahi holds, and use this information in line with the Digital Identity Trust Framework," the email in May this year said.

Just this single email was provided in response to RNZ's request for all substantive correspondence between senior Waka Kotahi managers or the board about digital driver licences.

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