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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Queensland driving towards a secure Smart State licence

    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Monday, September 29, 2003

    Queensland driving towards a secure Smart State licence

    Queensland drivers are likely to be the first in Australia to drive into the digital smart card age, after Cabinet decided today to invite Queenslanders' views on a proposed new licence.

    Premier Peter Beattie and Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer said Queenslanders would help shape the new driver's licence, which is expected to be introduced in 2006.

    "The proposed new licence would make the Smart State an international leader in secure smart card licences, and give us an edge in the fight against fraud," Mr Beattie said.

    "A digital licence will be a weapon against identity fraud in the pocket, wallet or purse of 2.5 million Queenslanders.

    "The Australian Crime Commission estimated in 2002 that identity fraud costs the nation $2.4 billion a year.

    "The new licence would have a built-in computer chip to securely store and process information that could be accessed only by a special reader.

    "It would securely store personal details, plus a photo and signature, and would have the capacity to store emergency contact information.

    "And it would be convenient, enabling drivers to do business on line and renew licences, replace lost or stolen licences, check traffic history, and transfer vehicle registration without leaving home.

    "Access to services would be same whether you were in Boulia or Brisbane," Mr Beattie said.

    It is proposed that strict privacy safeguards would be built into the new driver's licence system.

    The final cost will depend on public consultation, but is expected to be in the vicinity of $60 million.

    Using feedback from the consultation, the Government will prepare a business case investigating the private sector's potential involvement in the smart card licence.

    Mr Bredhauer said: "Depending on the private sector's interest in a public private partnership, the new system may involve no cost to Queensland taxpayers." He said Queenslanders need new driver's licence technology because the current technology was approaching its "use by" date.

    "The existing photo and laminated driver's licence risks being vulnerable to fraud, and the equipment is old and difficult to update," Mr Bredhauer said.

    "Research clearly shows Queenslanders want a driver's licence with more secure features.

    "Ninety-three per cent of 800 people surveyed strongly supported the development of a licence with the capacity to store emergency contact details, and 80 per cent were supportive of storing photos digitally.

    "I'd like to encourage licence holders to give us their feedback on the direction of the driver's licence," Mr Bredhauer said.

    The new driver licence consultation paper can be viewed on the website or by phoning 1800 898 991 toll free.

    All feedback must be received by Friday 21 November 2003.

    Media contact: Marie Low (for Mr Bredhauer) 3237 1944 or 0408 725 308 Fiona Kennedy (for Mr Beattie) 3224 4500

    Security safeguards

    Smart card technology is well-tested, reliable and meets rigorous security and integrity standards. Leading banks already use this technology and Visa and MasterCard are moving towards a smart card requirement. Smart cards have primarily been introduced to reduce fraud and increase security.

    The technology likely to be used is similar to that being used by the United States Government for its common access card for trusted employees and highly secure facilities, and by the United States National Security Agency.

    Smart cards have a built-in microprocessor - a tiny computer chip which will enable the licence to use strong protective mechanisms (cryptography). This will protect the card from unauthorised external access and tampering.

    Any attempt to crack the 'keys' of this type of smart card technology would be extremely expensive. A would-be hacker would need to invest in several millions of dollars in technology just to crack one card, and this could not be achieved without destruction of the particular card itself.

    Additionally, each card uses different 'keys' to ensure a breach on one card does not result in the security of the system as a whole being breached.

    Cards can be validated using a smart card reader to ensure their security has not been breached. In addition, for the driver's licence, there will be a number of physical security features such as holograms and micro-printing.

    Further, information stored on the card will be separated to ensure that persons authorised to access one set of information (for example, licence information) could not access other parts. The layers of security available with smart card technology will ensure licence holders can be confident that their information is extremely secure.