Smartphone Licences – A Licence to Share.

The DVLA has revealed plans that will enable the sharing of a driving licence on a smartphone. Another way of being able to enable validation of an entitlement to drive. But with fraudulently obtained or invalid driving licences already being used in the UK, will this new facility be vulnerable to identity thieves and fraudsters?

The DVLA has a dedicated Counter Fraud and Intelligence Team, tasked to identify and reduce any opportunity for fraud and corruption. The threats to businesses and individuals lie in the fact that driving licences are no longer just used to demonstrate an entitlement to drive but are also used as a primary identification document. As stated by the DVLA, this makes the driving licence a valuable asset for criminals to attempt to obtain, usually by providing false information or stealing someone else’s identity.

Since 2014, when the Home Office gave the DVLA the powers to revoke licences, many thousands of drivers have had their licences revoked. This was the result of a crackdown on individuals fraudulently obtaining driving licences in order to obtain work, open bank accounts and sign tenancy agreements where they were unable to legally present a passport. The consequence of using an illegal licence can be a £5000 fine and 10 years in prison but despite this, criminals are still willing to take the risk.

So what will be the consequences of enabling the sharing of driving licence details on a smartphone? The DVLA’s plans for 2017-18 states in its strategic goal 2.2 “Develop a private beta to allow a driver to give consent to access their driver record from their mobile device”, due for release in September 2017. Then a full version to be expected in spring 2018. Stating also that security will remain a priority. Comments in response to this revelation have been varied, including cautionary warnings and although not replacing the photo card licence, the app will enable the hiring of a vehicle, be useable for police validation and could also be used as a form of ID.

However, the DVLA is making enormous efforts to identify illegal or invalid licences and this has had a significant result. The success of revoking licences, illegally obtained or due to medical conditions etc. can possibly be graphically represented using the number of endorsements for “Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence” (LC20).

The consequences of the new app may well be seen as an opportunity to criminal elements who will make efforts to steal mobile devices or create dummy licence apps themselves. But the dedicated Counter Fraud and Intelligence Team and the security measures at the DVLA are sure to conduct and apply the same level of security checks and fraud validation methods to the new mobile device driving licence app as is currently undertaken for the existing driving licence and photo card. But individuals, businesses and organisations can also add to the deterrence of the criminal elements.

So how can the “security door” be kept firmly locked and closed? An individual sharing any data including electronic data, including apps that can store or reveal personal data, should be conscious of the need to be careful and secure with their own data. When the new app is released it is incumbent upon everyone to ensure that the mobile device is secure so that the loss or theft of a mobile device will not lead to a lost entitlement to drive or identity.

For business and organisations, current online licence checking services are a factor in filtering out invalid licences and as such Licence Link is an invaluable tool. Adopting Licence Link for driving licence, CPC and Tacho checking introduces another level of security. If included within procedures and policies, this duty of care requirement will remove the risk of illegal or invalid licences being used to obtain employment, falsify an entitlement to drive or be used as proof of ID.

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