Qld checks out smart licences

More than 2.5 million Queenslanders could soon become a walking database of personal details and private information should the introduction of a 'smartcard' driver's licence be given the green light.

The state government has invited the private sector to offer potential ideas that could be developed on, and included, as part of the smartcard licence proposal, expected to be rolled out state-wide in 2006.

Transport Minister Paul Lucas said many 'optional extras' could be offered to Queensland licence holders under the proposed smartcard licence scheme, including credit card-linked loyalty or rewards points to buying goods from vending machines by using money stored on the smartcard.

Lucas added that the new system offered a range of security features to reduce the risk of licence and identity fraud that will make Queensland a leading state in using and adopting innovative technology.

"The new licence could offer a range of potential features, including storing emergency contact details on an electronic chip or using the chip to let licence holders carry out secure online transactions with government agencies," Lucas said.

"These are ideas only – this market sounding is all about hearing from the private sector what it thinks are potential commercial applications for the proposed licence.

"I expect many Queenslanders will find the use of optional extras such as a credit card and cash card in the smartcard licence very convenient, but that will be entirely a matter for them."

While licence holders would have the choice of linking extra services to their licence, Associate Professor of Law at Griffith University, Justin Malbon, said the introduction of a smartcard licence is in no way going to help the populace, just make it easier to collect personal information.

"The smartcard licences offer nothing but a huge database about yourself that you carry in your pocket and instead of adding to national security it has the reverse effect of offering greater personal insecurity," Malbon said.

"If a smartcard was introduced for transport that was just a non-personal card with a stored value then that would be a convenient and wonderful system; however, if it was linked to identification then the government, or a third-party, has the ability to track everyone on public transport and provide a feast of information that can be misused.

"It hands the basic function of a government onto a commercial organisation which poses accountability issues like how do we know how secure the information is and is the information duplicated?"

Expressions of interest from the private sector on the range of commercial and technical issues surrounding the licence will run until June 14 in order to assess whether the project should run as a public/private partnership in accordance with Queensland government guidelines.

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