Smart Card Driver's License Revs Up Identity Assurance

Aussie government implements ActivIdentity smart card technology

Drivers exceeding the speed limit in the Australian state of Queensland will soon have the distinction of handing to a police officer the world's first smart card driver's licenses. ActivIdentity announced this month an agreement with the Queensland Department of Transport to deliver the company's ActivIdentity Smart Card Management solution for secure issuance of driver's licenses. Switching every driver's license in Queensland to the smart card technology is expected to take five years, as existing driver's licenses won't be replaced until they expire and said expiration date is five years.

The first phase will offer smart card driver's licenses that contain the user's info that's typically readily available if an individual is stopped by police, according to Torsten George, head of global marketing for ActivIdentity. In the second phase, the smart card will be leveraged for commercial applications such as bank cards and health cards. Citizens will be able to decide what type of information on their driver's license smart card to share with these entities—or not to share. The ActivIdentity solution interacts with and extends the government's existing software and the smart cards comply with Australian government smart card policy. The hope is that all states in Australia will eventually employ this same smart card technology. Advantages, George says, include reducing fraud, simplifying issuance procedures, and cutting government red tape.

The smart card driver's license incorporates three-factor authentication: The driver has the card in his or her possession; knows the PIN number to access the information on the card; and the face on the card matches the driver's face.  The company foresees eventually offering smart card driver's licenses in New Zealand, Indonesia, and the UK.

In the US, smart card driver's licenses have faced stiff opposition. But in Europe, George points out, people are accustomed to smart cards—every credit and bank card has a smart card chip on it, and some countries also employ smart cards as medical cards for easy transference of medical records when a patient sees a different doctor. To learn more about the solution, see

 To take 3 steps down the path to Security Guru-dom:

  1. "Introducing Microsoft Certificate Lifecycle Manager" by Jan DeClercq
  2. "Two-Factor Authentication Tokens" by Sue Tibbetts
  3. "Scrutinizing Windows Authentication" by Roger Grimes




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