back to article A UK digital driving licence: What could possibly go wrong?

Security vendors have welcomed plans to trial digital versions of the UK’s driving licence. The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is working on a digital version of its driving license for smartphones, to serve as an "add-on" to the existing plastic card. DVLA chief Oliver Morley tweeted a snapshot of the prototype …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think it's a "long and chequered history" it's just "a long history" unless we can find a large government IT project that ran on time and under budget?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      OK, I'll bite

      What problem is this a solution for?

      1. MrTuK

        Re: OK, I'll bite

        I think all this digital fluff is in preparation for digital money only !

        God help the local window cleaners or the friendly neighbour that want to help his elderly neighbour do a bit of local shopping but now won't be able to as the elderly lady ain't got any cash or internet access to transfer monies owed for the shopping !

        So does he pay for it using her card and pin number oops that would be dangerous and against banking policies !

        Nah, she'll have to starve to death !

        Ah well at least they will save on pensions to pay out now, so it will save money - whooo a cost benefit solution !

      2. Smooth Newt
        Black Helicopters

        Re: OK, I'll bite

        What problem is this a solution for?

        Mandatory ID cards?

        If everyone has a smart phone, then everyone has their driving licence on them, so everyone effectively has an ID card on them. It is only a short step to make de facto into de jure and make it mandatory to show it at every possible opportunity. Electronic papers citizen!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: OK, I'll bite

          "If everyone has a smart phone, then everyone has their driving licence on them, so everyone effectively has an ID card on them."

          Except, of course, not everyone has a driving licence amd/or a smartphone.

          On the other hand, this move towards more and more digitla ID/digital only documents falls down when you need to present two forms of identification, one must by photo ID at various places such banks when opening an account, or dealing with a deceased affairs and they must by original, printed hardcopy documents.

          With no passport, no driving licence and all the household bills in my name, the only way to get around "the system" when my wife wanted to change her bank account to same bank as me, on the advice of the bank manager, we opened a joint account then made an application for my name to be removed from the new joint account. Then we opened another joint account so we eventually got what we wanted :-)

          1. kmac499

            Re: OK, I'll bite

            Excessive application of the 'know your customer' rules are a real pain. The only other solution is to turn up to the head office of the bank with a few million in cash in a suitcase. You might even get a free chequebook cover to boot.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OK, I'll bite

          They missed a trick on the Governments Plan to mandatory ID cards when they removed the paper counterpart to the driving licence. They could have easily said that you needed to carry your plastic card driving licence whenever you are driving, They did this in NZ when they moved to a paperless driving licence (May 1999). but you only legally "HAVE" to show your driving licence to a policeman as ID when you are actually driving,,, BUT at about the same time they changed the drinking age and made it so that companies and individuals were fined large sums for serving under age drinkers so ID checks were increased drastically and the driving licence became the de-facto ID card.

          1. Number6

            Re: OK, I'll bite

            Sunny California uses the driver's licence (-se?) as official ID. Those who don't drive can get an equivalent official ID from DMV if they want to. Quite a few places ask to see it, often if you're making a large purchase with a credit card, but it's not the intrusive thing that would have been the UK ID card. You hand over your credit card (or swipe it yourself, or occasionally put it in the chip-reader slot) so they already know who you are, then they ask to see ID, so you show then your licence, which looks official and the photo looks vaguely like you, and that's it. No logging into a surveillance database that you bought such and such an item at a store, it's very low key and there seems to be no push to make it worse.

            Now, if the UK had started along those lines they could probably be introducing their huge database around now.

      3. Loud Speaker

        Re: OK, I'll bite

        What problem is this a solution for?

        Excuses to give out lucrative contracts?

      4. Matthew 3

        Re: OK, I'll bite

        "What problem is this a solution for?

        Let's see what device permissions the new app requires first. My guess is that it will want to read all your known associates, sorry, 'contacts', and it'll want location data too.

        They'll have almost everyone who signs up effectively carrying around a trackable ID card which can be cross-referenced with ANPR cameras...

        Still having trouble working out why they like this idea?

      5. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: OK, I'll bite

        If I want a digital license, I'll use my mobile phone to take a picture of it.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      The Congestion Charge and Oyster Card systems in London were relatively successful as government IT projects go.

      1. SuccessCase

        Also the move to online tax returns, also pretty good. And then the entire country was looking for any excuse to be able to say the process had fallen flat on its' face.

  2. My-Handle

    Wrong conclusion

    I read the title and jumped to the conclusion that the government was making it illegal to use a computer without having a license! Something like a cross between ECDL and a real driver's license, maybe. I got a few lines in before realising my mistake.

    While part of me would sincerely love to see some users permanently banned from touching a computer, I think perhaps it's best that the government is not responsible for judging that one.

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Trollface

      Re: Wrong conclusion

      "I think perhaps it's best that the government is not responsible for judging that one."

      Because they'd have to start by banning themselves?

    2. Snafu1

      Re: Wrong conclusion

      "I read the title and jumped to the conclusion that the government was making it illegal to use a computer without having a license!"

      TV licensing appears to already do that.. :(

  3. Tim Warren

    I've heard a a story from a biker who sent of his driving licence for renewal following a change of address. When the licence was returned his motorbike entitlement had vanished, leaving only cars etc. When he argued it DVLA claimed to never have known about his missing entitlement despite. He was forced to re-sit his test. His insurance then rocketed as he was now considered a new rider, and not one with 9 years of experience as was the case before.

    As a result when I've changed my licence I always take a scan / photocopy of it before sending it off.

    What could possible go wrong with a fully digital government database?...

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Big Brother

      What could possible go wrong with a fully digital government database?...

      Citizen- your licence to drive has been (suddenly) revoked. You are now a criminal. Step away from the car and kneel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What could possible go wrong with a fully digital government database?...

        rather than "stepping away from the car", you'll be asked to "Remain calm, the team en route will unlock your door. Have a nice day!"

      2. Bob Rocket

        Re: What could possible go wrong with a fully digital government database?...

        Denying Criminals the use of roads.

        This obviously extends to suspects because that goes with 'Prevent'

        It is for your own/others 'Protect'tion.

        Have a nice day ('Serve')

    2. 0laf Silver badge
      Big Brother

      DVLA

      I've recently had the misfortune of trying to sort out the V5 on my late wife's car. It took 3 months, more than a few letters and phone calls to get sorted and cost me a few thousand quid in payments and depreciation. Mainly because the DVLA lost one document and then rather then saying "we have a problem", it is their policy to do and say nothing.

      However during this period every single person I spoke to had a story either first or second hand about the DVLA.

      They had lost a workmate's husband's HGV licence so he could work, and they denied ever getting it despite there being evidence.

      They lost my Fathers licence.

      They returned the post office worker's daughters licence with a blokes picture on it.

      When I got a private plate they spelt my name wrong

      When moving cars they moved the plate to the wrong car and removed me from the V5 of my new one.

      They lost the V5 of another co-worker, 6 months to sort

      those are just the ones I can remember.

      Plus will we mention the DVLA selling of personal details to parking fine issuers and insurance fraudsters which at best is legally a little grey.

      So what could possibly go wrong with the DVLA having an electronic only system?

      And of course this is not an ID card, not at all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DVLA

        DVLA can sell your personal information to anyone they want to - read the small print on your licence application form. Nobody - not even other Government departments - are allowed to sell your details without permission (even if they do sometimes have to request permission after the event).

        You have to give them permission to sell your details or you do not get a licence. Therefore, if you have a licence, they can sell your details.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

          Re: DVLA

          @AC

          "Nobody - not even other Government departments..."

          Well, yes - the thing is, the DVLA is not a Government department.

          They are an "Executive agency of the Department for Transport (DfT)"

          IIRC, that gives them certain "flexibility" in the way they operate. (I take that to mean without consultation/being able to do things without going back to parliament)

          https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-licensing-agency/about

          "We’ve been through a radical process of change moving away from a paper based organisation to a modern and highly efficient business."

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Remember Castrol?

          @"You have to give them permission to sell your details or you do not get a licence. Therefore, if you have a licence, they can sell your details."

          They get 2.50 quid a pop for each automated computer query, its a real profit center for them. Do you remember the Castrol advert? It would scan your number plate, pull up your DVLA details and display a personalized advert to you?

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/28/dvla_castrol/

          The excuse?: "DVLA provides vehicle information under strict contractual terms to the motor industry to ensure vehicles are fitted with the correct parts, including brakes, tyres and oil."

          Actually the VIN number is how they order the exact parts. Nothing to do with the model type in the DVLA computer, that doesn't have the micro detail necessary and the car manufacturer didn't know the license plate number when they made the car. It doesn't link up.

          So now your driving license details will be added? The photograph too? The face metrics used for Facebook lookup? So much private data sold by government.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: DVLA

          "Nobody - not even other Government departments - are allowed to sell your details without permission (even if they do sometimes have to request permission after the event)."

          Can you tell that to the NHS / HSCIS (NHS Digital) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/04/20/one_million_patients_have_opted_out_of_caredata/ who want to give the most personal of data to any company willing to pay for it. WITHOUT any informed consent.

      2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: DVLA

        Yep. I am selling my late father's car and private registration, and find the DVLA very efficient at taking money off me for this and that, but not at all helpful when I need for info. When I phoned, I hung on for a bit, was told, we are experiencing high call rates, so goodbye' and was hung up on from the auto-voice. I was thrilled.

      3. ShortLegs

        Re: DVLA

        @Olaf

        A few years ago I had a personalised plate too, a very, very valuable one (think 6 digits), which a certain nationally-advertising registration company was trying to acquire. I changed my car, and tried to transfer the registration. Thanks to DVLA 'cockups', I was 're-issued' the old vehicles' previous private registration - which had previously been transferred to the prior owner's new vehicle - and 'lost' my registration.

        During the process of trying to resolve it, DVLA managed to 'sell' it to the registration company... last time I looked, it was assigned to a Ford Mondeo.

        DVLA refused to accept any responsibility.

        Still, at least when I had had my plate cloned a couple of years previously (and fitted to an identical make, model, and colour of car), they contacted me before providing my details to the Police; "I", or rather my vehicle - had been caught on camera in excess of 100mph on the A34. As it was, I could prove that my car was in a dealers workshop at the time, and therefore it wasn't me or my vehicle.

      4. N2 Silver badge

        Re: DVLA

        Like HMRC they are always correct whilst you, despite a heap of evidence au contraire are not. They are yet another incompetant organisation staffed by personel who would be un-employable in the private sector.

        1. Snafu1

          Re: DVLA

          See also Post Office computers :(

        2. Esme

          Re: DVLA

          It's a complete myth that private sector employees are all competent and that public sector ones are not. I've had personal experience of both, and the main difference I can see is that if a private sector operation is run too badly, it tends to go out of business, whereas public sector organisations run badly just carry on business as usual. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that in teh majority of cases, it's incompetence in the higher ups of any organistion (so signing off on new, but useless systems, or indulging in 'new broom' policies just to try to impress on all as to who is boss - et cetera, et cetera) that cause the majority of problems. If the system's broke or unfit for purpose, how is a mere minion supposed to make it work right?

      5. Not That Andrew

        Re: DVLA

        When my brother first got his licence they issued him with a full HGV licence. It's come in very full over the years. He's never driven an articulated lorry, but that's the only type he hasn't.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ehm.. I think my dad got that entitlement..

      Dad renewed license and returned with full motorbike license added on (has never driven a motorcycle or scooter in his life!! - didn't even realise it was added!!)

    4. David Neil

      This has happened to a lot of people who had that entitlement wiped.

      I also had that issue, paper licence clearly showed I had entitlement to ride bikes, switched to photo licence on change of address in 2006 and lo and behold an entitlement I had since Nov 1992 had disappeared.

      https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/removal_of_entitlements_and_lack

      1. Colin Miller

        Data Proectection Act

        Surely the DVLA have a duty under the DPA (or the data protection directive as it is now) (article 6) to

        Personal data may be processed only insofar as it is adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purposes for which they are collected and/or further processed. The data must be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that data which are inaccurate or incomplete, having regard to the purposes for which they were collected or for which they are further processed, are erased or rectified.

        If they accidentally remove someone's license entitlements, then they have breached the directive, and must correct this as soon as they have been notified.

        Has there been any cases of the DVLA been taken to court over the DPA?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did he not have a copy of his test certificate?

      And I renewed my licence with my new address a few years ago - I didnt send them my old one...Maybe it was different in the past, but afaik it is not a requirement to send them your old DL when changing address.

    6. paulf Silver badge
      Mushroom

      @ Tim Warren RE: Biker change of address

      Previously when I've moved house I've written my new address on the paper part of my license and popped it in the post to Swansea. An updated paper copy arrived a week or two later. Nice and easy.

      When I last moved (roughly three years ago) I thought I would use the online "prove your identity with your passport" way of changing the address on my Driving License in the hope it would save me a stamp. (Yes, I know, it's funny *now*).

      I went through all sorts of hoops and steps to prove I am the person on the license including all my passport details (now helpfully and permanently linked to my Driving License). Eventually it came back and said "Thank you, your address has been changed. We now need you to return your old paper license in the post - you are obliged to do this.".

      FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL

      Icon -> "WFT?" "FAIL" "Big Brother" "Terminator" "Facepalm" are all relevant here. Unfortunately there isn't a "Quietly weeping while hitting head against keyboard" icon.

    7. Ian Emery Silver badge

      Hear this a LOT

      I know of a number of HGV drivers who lost their HGV entitlement this way, and were forced to retake their tests; even keeping a scan of your old licence isnt enough to get DVLA to admit fault and restore your licence.

      Perhaps getting a notarised copy made??

      1. MrT

        Re: Hear this a LOT

        I had to give up my licence for a year after a seizure. Once medically cleared for my full Till-70 licence again, it took them a handful of attempts to get it back to me with the correct entitlements. One of the versions finally had the right categories on, but for car, minibus and light goods vehicles only the "with trailer" codes were listed. When I rang DVLA to check if I should be concerned, not having specced a tow bar on the car I'd just ordered, they admitted that this was an impossible combination and that there were several departments that were able to authorise a reissue. The advisor also said she could see no record of the issue number of the licence I had in front of me, and that I definitely should not have the other (also wrong) version I had next to it as they never issued a licence until the previous one was returned to them.

        That was just under 10 years ago - I'm getting ready for the same shenanigans when renewing the photo card in the next month...

        1. swampdog

          Re: Hear this a LOT

          Don't bother MrT

          I parked at the back of the supermarket car park. I wasn't feeling too well. By the time my wife came out there were six cars around me. This is what I call "the clumping syndrome". Two of them drove in with their heads in their laps. Ms Mobile.

          If you park a van diagonally across 6 parking spaces you'll be fine.

    8. Graham Marsden

      Don't "renew" your licence...

      ... report it as "Lost or Stolen" and get the DVLA to send you a replacement.

      If they screw up and miss off half your qualifications, well suddenly you "find" the old licence again...

    9. swampdog

      DVLA

      I'm the original victim of ID fraud, courtesy of the DVLA. I'm no saint. 30+ years ago I had two DUI's in one week when my father died. No excuse but it happened. 20 years ago me & the missus are pottering along the top of the A55 in a van with "Legalise Brocholli" written in mirror writing on the front of our van. Our lives changed. Got a pull by the Heddlu. Mirth and we're on our way. Ten minutes later they pull me up again. Apparently I'm a disqualified driver.

      The police, at the station, ask me if they can keep my licence. Biggest mistake of my life. DVLA denied all knowledge of issuing it. According to records I'm now 3 years into a 5 year ban for death by reckless driving. The police even turned up at court to testify they had seen a licence but it was sent back to Swansea so their evidence was inadmissible.

      I dunno what happened in court. They argued, in Welsh. No translator. Probation officer laid into me about "the bollox" of claiming ID fraud. I filled out all her forms then refused to sign as my name wasn't Gavin.

      I subsequently discovered who was using my licence but court records are only retained for 3 years.

      I scan my licence as well.

      Eight years ago I was starting an overtake on my motorbike. A revoked driver performed a u-turn. All this shit got dragged up again

      There's only one thing worse than snooping, it's having to live your life apologising for someone else's mistake - and being forced to do it.

      Long live the DVLA!

    10. Rol Silver badge

      re: motorbike entitlement had vanished

      On occasions, it is sometimes of great benefit to "lose" your licence when getting renewals, as DVLA will not accept a photocopy as any form of proof whatsoever. My friend found this out to their cost and strangely enough, again, it was the motorbike bit that had been wiped.

      The lesson here, is never to give up your licence until the new one has been issued correctly.

      Perhaps one way of solving this, is to recommend everyone rings up the DVLA prior to sending the documents back, to enquire as to what the computer is showing. Once DVLA goes into meltdown they just might consider revising their obviously flawed processes.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So he

      hadnt riden a bike or insured one for over 9 years? what's his whinge then

      Else his insurance company would have scanned copies of his DVLA entitlements

      this is a bullshit story from the urban legend of people without lights on at night

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: So he

        "Else his insurance company would have scanned copies of his DVLA entitlements"

        Why would they? I have never sent my insurance company any of my driving licence details.

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Facepalm

    My guru lives uptown...

    "Paco Garcia, CTO of UK identity verification startup Yoti, said (somewhat excitedly, as he'd never been asked for a soundbite before) that "digital driving licences had the potential to make identification process easier and more time efficient, whilst keeping the end user secure. The speculative plans from the DVLA to potentially introduce digital driving licenses showcases the ever-evolving need for innovative solutions within the online space.""

    Wow. What insight.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: My guru lives uptown...

      Unfortunately, if you Google "Yoti" and click on the About Yoti link that Google returns, it would seem that the guru believes in security through obscurity [also cached in dropbox].

      Edit: given the current political climate, is it really wise for them to claim:

      We use the best facial recognition technology avaliable - the same used by European border control.

  5. Kevin Johnston

    It Bodes

    This has all the hallmarks of another solution looking for a problem. Ignoring the complete inability of government to secure data on this (or indeed any) scale, how could this possibly be seen to advance anything?

    So you have a copy of your license on your smartphone, wow, except someone has nicked your phone and their mate who looks a bit like you is now flashing your ID when stopped by Police. That's going to come out well isn't it?

    It's not like you can prove that the image/Scancode/page you are showing a shopkeeper when trying to buy alcohol could have been faked up in the school IT room is it.

    Bunch of failed apprentice muppets

    1. Wupspups

      Re: It Bodes

      As a non smart phone owning person will they buy me one to hold my funky new "its digital it can't go wrong driving license on" ? Cos I sure wont.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: It Bodes

        And does having a flat battery count as "failure to produce valid documents" ?

        1. VinceH Silver badge

          Re: It Bodes

          "And does having a flat battery count as "failure to produce valid documents" ?"

          Look beyond such pitfalls, and remember that for the end user there will be "increased convenience". They will achieve this by coupling the digital licence "with the increased use of biometric, multi-factor and secondary authentication techniques".

          So when you show your digital licence (or fail to do so because of a flat battery) you may also need to supply a secondary form of identity, or do something else to help authenticate your identity.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It Bodes

      What exactly is this for? What problem does it solve?

      If it's about producing your driving licence in relation to a motoring offence in the UK: the physical licence itself doesn't matter. It's your driver number, which looks up your entry in the database.

      If it's about using the E-driving licence as some sort of digital proof of identity, to show to a bank, or the foreign authorities: then this is bonkers. Anyone can fake up a smartphone screen to make it look however they want.

      The trouble is that a driving licence is a dual-use document, both a certificate of your entitlement to drive, and a certificate of your identity. The latter use only works at all if this is a physical card with security features which make it difficult to reproduce.

      Presumably all that the government wants is to avoid the cost of printing a secure plastic card and mailing it out every 10 years (which we already pay £14-£17 for, by the way).

      1. Velv Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: It Bodes

        "...and a certificate of your identity. The latter use only works at all if this is a physical card with security features which make it difficult to reproduce."

        The latter use only works at all if this is a physical card item with security features which make it difficult to reproduce.

        Lothian Buses do M-Tickets on your SmartPhone - you activate a pre-paid ticket and show the screen to the driver. Sounds easy to "fake". But it's an image with moving elements making it impossible to screenshot. An active security feature is harder to fake, so there's no reason any digital document couldn't have similar features.

        1. MrTuK

          Re: It Bodes

          So its a gif ?

          And that can't be faked - rofl !!!

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: It Bodes

        "Presumably all that the government wants is to avoid the cost of printing a secure plastic card and mailing it out every 10 years (which we already pay £14-£17 for, by the way)."

        It cost me a fiver to replace my driving licence the last time I lost it. I got one of those horrible new pink paper ones instead of the nice green paper one I unfortunately lost. It's valid until about 2032 IIRC. No need to pay for an update every 10 years.

        1. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: It Bodes

          Only valid unless you move house, then you have to return it and they will charge you for a crappy plastic one.

          That is how the prised my Green paper one out of my hands; they promised the plastic version was not compulsory - THEY LIED!!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: It Bodes

            "Only valid unless you move house, then you have to return it and they will charge you for a crappy plastic one."

            It's not actually clear from the gov website if it's free or not. It's free to get a replacement if you change your name or address but £17 if want to change the photo. I'd argue that changing my name or address but having to add a photo is not changing one so ought to be free ;-)

        2. swampdog

          Re: It Bodes

          Never *ever* send off for a new licence. You will get "a duplicate". Piss on it. Set fire to it. See my earlier post about how it can ruin your life.

    3. MatthewSt

      Re: It Bodes

      Are you trying to argue here that having the driving licence on a phone is now more vulnerable to theft and abuse than having it on a piece of plastic in your wallet? Surely the thief who stole your phone is just as likely to have stolen your wallet? Except of course the wallet isn't going to have prompted him with a PIN code to open. (a more realistic problem is that they could possibly have logged in to your account).

      Maybe the image could have been faked, but there could be supporting systems that the shopkeeper has access to to validate it independently of your device (or piece of plastic). An app on their phone (or till system) could validate the details against the central DB using some form of (bar/QR)code.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: It Bodes

        "Surely the thief who stole your phone is just as likely to have stolen your wallet? "

        At least with my wallet they actually have to be in the same physical location in order to steal it.

    4. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: It Bodes

      "So you have a copy of your license on your smartphone, wow, except someone has nicked your phone and their mate who looks a bit like you is now flashing your ID when stopped by Police. That's going to come out well isn't it?"

      The same smartphone that's probably full of malware, so not only is it sending off your 2FA codes for on-line banking to its new Russian masters, they've got a copy of one of your ID documents...

      "Yes, Comerade Barclays, I am wanting £20,000 loan, £250,000 mortgage and £2,000 overdraft all at once".

    5. Disgusted of Cheltenham

      Re: It Bodes

      We aren't talking confidentiality here, just integrity, so the data (picture and a few attributes) is 'secured' with a good 1970's digital signature which any fool can check is from DVLA. Small market for trusted checkers, but the data has to be available in a convenient form: read from NFC phone, your website, on a plastic card, a QRC tattoo (but please don't) or any other method of your choice, so that it can be offered to the checker.

      (Likewise, power of attorney needs a pdf digitally signed by the OPG, not an online system of any sort.)

      The DVLA policy in 2009 as presented on the No2ID threads was impeccable; presumably someone has quietly changed it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No smartphone here..

    GFY DVLA

  7. m0rt Silver badge

    "People are living increasingly social lives"

    Really? You said that outside of an Armando Iannucci script?

    1. nematoad Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

      "“People are living increasingly social lives..."

      If by that he means that everyone is using Facebook, Twiiter and so on, then no. Not all of us have either a Facebook account or a smart 'phone and I for one don't want either. So in the future will I be left licensesless?

      As for the plastic driving license, I have actually seen one though it was not mine. I only have a pink and green paper job that I got for free and have never had to pay to renew it.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

        "As for the plastic driving license, I have actually seen one though it was not mine. I only have a pink and green paper job that I got for free and have never had to pay to renew it."

        Wait. Once it next expires, they will charge, and it will be a plastic one.

        1. AS1

          Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

          The paper ones don't expire until you are 70; the neat 'charge for renewal' scam only came along with the photo ID element where an old photo may not match the new you.

          Alas certain changes will trigger the plastic replacement merry-go-round. Here's the list from the DVLA website:

          -------------------------------------------

          You must get a new licence if:

          * you change your address

          * your licence has been defaced

          * you change your name (you must apply by post using paper form D1 or D2)

          * you’re getting a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) driver qualification card (DQC)

          If none of these apply and your paper licence is still valid, you don’t need to exchange it for a photocard version.

          -------------------------------------------

        2. Vic

          Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

          Wait. Once it next expires, they will charge, and it will be a plastic one.

          Once it expires. I shall be 70, and probably[1] not safe to drive...

          Vic.

          [1] I've seen how I drive...

      2. JonP

        Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

        I only have a pink and green paper job that I got for free and have never had to pay to renew it.

        You know the paper licences are not longer valid don't you? (Since last year as I recall -- discovered after a snafu trying to hire a car...) -- you might want to check, if you still drive.

        1. swampdog

          Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

          Down voted for telling the truth!

          My mother still has paper. Doesn't matter. I tried to explain electronic tagging to her but fuck it.

        2. Vic

          Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

          You know the paper licences are not longer valid don't you?

          No, I don't. Because they are still valid.

          What they are not is an acurate record of any endorsements you might have - that now needs to be looked up online, which might confuse car hire companies. But the licence is still valid.

          Vic.

          1. JonP

            Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

            No, I don't. Because they are still valid. My mistake -- you're right it's the paper bits that came with the plastic card that are invalid, not the original paper licences...

      3. Esme

        Re: "People are living increasingly social lives"

        +1 from me, Nematoad. From what I've seen, people are living increasingly anti-social lives - ignoring the people imemdiately around them, indulging in trolling, consuming voyeurism as entertainment (rather than regarding it as a social evil)

        Sure, it's nice to have easy contact with friends far away. But that's not a reason for folk to be ignorant to those immediately around them, which seems to be happening more and more.

  8. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Security was a priority

    Of course it is, or else they'd lose their existing cushie business of selling your personal information to anyone and everyone who wants it that happens to have a suitably large suitcase full of cash...

    Just look up all the stories about their dealings with various parking companies, dodgy insurance dealers and other less shining examples of members of the motor trade.

  9. not.known@this.address Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Driving licences on mobile phones? What could possibly go wrong?

    As a technical type (electronics, electrics, electromechanical, mechanical, and now IT) for more years than I care to remember (and the offspring of an engineer who learned his trade when it meant something, not like currently where kids with maths qualifications can't do simple sums - or any 'working-out' at all apparently - and where those with English exam "passes" cannot spell, write or read properly and most can't even speak properly either - or did I miss the ruling where most vowels were replaced with "O"s and "T" dropped completely - wo'evor, prin'or, etc), I have lost count of the times some bright spark* comes up with a technical solution that fails miserably when there was a much simpler method of doing the same.

    Still, I expect the people responsible for this brainwave will be the first to volunteer to have their licences converted and will trial the scheme for a reasonable time to prove it will work for the rest of us plebs. A good three or four years at least should do it...

    * I write 'bright spark'. What I meant was the sort of thing that gets publications banned for prolonged and justified use of obscenities...

  10. earl grey Silver badge
    Flame

    You've all missed the best part

    So, now that you've got your digital license on your mobe, when robby bobby pulls you over and asks to see your papers (comrade), you whip out your phone, unlock it so they can see it and hand it over so they can now scan everything in there before they hand it back to you with your new reward.

    Wankers one and all.

    1. Velv Silver badge

      Re: You've all missed the best part

      ApplePay (which uses Apple Wallet) can be activated without unlocking the phone. So no reason the driving license couldn't be made viewable while protecting privacy. In fact, you've probably just proven this should be mandatory

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: You've all missed the best part

      I have a feeling that the DVLA app will require permission to read local storage, contacts, phone state, identity and location so this won't be necessary.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: You've all missed the best part

        Even if the problem is solved for Apple, there are a lot of Android phones running a lot of different versions of Android with different vendor customizations. You going to throw them to the wolves?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: You've all missed the best part

          Lots of different versions of android is totally untrue.

          4.4, 5 and 6.

          The reality is however that the version you have is mostly irrelevant, and Android Pay is tied to Google services, which is available to all 3 of those versions. Google also do security updates for those also.

          So really no more fragmented than iOS.

  11. johnB

    Trust DVLA?

    When my step mother died, I had the choice of re-taxing the car or "SORN-ing" it. Neither of which I could do as I wasn't the owner.

    After long calls with DVLA I was told to just forge a signature.

    And then of course there's the scam where they make you pay an extra month's tax when you trade in your car.

    DVLA - wouldn't trust them to get the time of day right.

    1. swampdog

      Re: Trust DVLA?

      Back in the day you had a car and either drove it or not. It cost me £28 to add a limited edition (only made 500) racing Firenza.

      Then they came for the bikers.

      Then they came for the car drivers.

      You raise a valid point. How is one supposed to buy a car privately?

    2. Vic

      Re: Trust DVLA?

      After long calls with DVLA I was told to just forge a signature.

      Long before SORN, I went in to a DVLA office to pay the back-tax on a car I had that hadn't been taxed for over a year.

      They wanted my reference number from the Police. I didn't have one.

      The (rather condescending) clerk then explained to me that I would have been gevin a reference number when the Police caught me without road tax, and that was what they wanted.

      I then explained that I hadn't been caught, and simply wanted to pay the back tax because it was the right thing to do, and I didn't want to get caught.

      They had absolutely no idea what to do with this situation.

      In the end, a senior manager had to be brought out to deal with me, and we thrashed out a mutually acceptable solution. But the comedy value was enormous...

      Vic.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or, or...

    get rid of licence's and car insurance, then it will be a level playing field, yes?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guess I'll hang on to my paper licence a bit longer... not least because I suspect it may have become welded into the wallet pocket its been in, untouched, for the best part of 20 years.

    1. VinceH Silver badge

      If it's anything like mine, then you should be worried that the next time you need to get it out might be the time it finally falls to pieces. Mine's still hanging together - just.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Mine's still hanging together - just.

        Same here. DVLA can fuck with their poxy half baked plastic ID cards. I think I'm going to have to use some tape on the folds to stop it becoming big confetti. Anybody thinking about doing this may want to choose Scotch Crystal Clear Tape which is specifically sold for long life document repairs.

  14. captain veg

    driving licence is NOT an ID

    I don't care what fuckwhittery Blunkett and chums might have got up to back in the day, a driving licence is a licence to drive. It is not an identity document. It asserts that you have passed your test and not been subsequently disqualified. It has nothing at all to say about who you are.

    I've still got a pink paper one, not even a photograph on it, and it expires on my 70th birthday. I'll be keeping it until then, thanks all the same.

    -A.

    1. Toltec

      Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

      It is functionally accepted as one for low security confirmation as it has your name, address and photograph on it.

      As for the electronic version, it is already part way here as the removal of the paper counterpart means you now need to supply a code for third party verification.

      Interesting that converting to an electronic version will mean you need to carry a device that it is illegal to use while driving.

      "Yes officer, here is my licence"

      "Thank you sir, I note that your engine is still running therefore here is a ticket for using your phone whilst driving!"

      1. captain veg

        Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

        A utility bill is often acceptable as proof of residence, even though that is assuredly not what it is actually for. It would be insane to suggest that this justifies "upgrading" them to some "secure" digital version at enormous cost. Wouldn't it?

        -A.

      2. VinceH Silver badge

        Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

        "It is functionally accepted as one for low security confirmation as it has your name, address and photograph on it."

        It doesn't have your photograph on it if you've never changed from the old paper-only one. Which captain veg did say his is.

      3. d3vy

        Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

        "Thank you sir, I note that your engine is still running therefore here is a ticket for using your phone whilst driving!"

        Oh don't be a tool.

        For a start the first thing that the police do after pulling you over (and after a greeting of some description) is ask you to stop the engine.

        Secondly - you would be carrying that device anyway whether it had your licence on it or not.

        Thirdly - there is no (enforced) requirement for you to have your licence on you while you are driving, if they pull you and trust you to produce it you will be given a period of time to take it into a station.

        Now, I think its important to note at this point that I disagree with the digital licence... I dont see a point to it but to start making out that its going to cause additional fines for using a phone whilst driving is ridiculous.

        1. swampdog

          Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

          "For a start the first thing that the police do after pulling you over (and after a greeting of some description) is ask you to stop the engine."

          No. The first thing a police officer will do is pull you out of the car. See my earlier post. He will see your crutches but the bollox in his head will cause him to punch his way through the door. Once he is through, he will set his dog upon you.

          "Secondly - you would be carrying that device anyway whether it had your licence on it or not."

          Que?

          "Thirdly - there is no (enforced) requirement for you to have your licence on you while you are driving, if they pull you and trust you to produce it you will be given a period of time to take it into a station."

          Stop quoting shit. Electronic checks - no need to pull. Result: everyone does 99mph. Accidents? Same as normal.

          "Now, I think its important to note at this point that I disagree with the digital licence... I dont see a point to it but to start making out that its going to cause additional fines for using a phone whilst driving is ridiculous.""

          Tax

          1. d3vy

            Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

            Have you taken something?

            I take it you've never actually dealt with the police?

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

        "Thank you sir, I note that your engine is still running therefore here is a ticket for using your phone whilst driving!"

        There was a local case of a district nurse fined for user her phone. She was parked up with the engine off but still classed as "in charge" of the vehicle. I can't remember the exact details. Maybe the ignition was still "live".

        It was the local BBC news a year or two back, Look North for Tyne & Wear/Cumbria but my GoogleFu is failing me this evening.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: driving licence is NOT an ID

      I am so pleased to note that there are other old fuddy duddies reading the Reg who, like me have held on to their old paper licences. I still use mine here in Spain, the police and hire companies are quite happy when I produce it so I will keep it for the next 5 years until it expires, after which I may get a plstic one printed in Phu-ket!

      I just can't wait to see how many screw ups there will be with multiple levels of ID authentification kept on smart phones including your digitised biometrics. And just as they were becoming less nickable because everyone had one, now it will be as good as nicking your wallet.

      Usually, as soon as a technology becomes the norm for a given security use, someone will have found an enterprising way of cracking it and making it a source of ill gotten gains, this 'Security' won't be any different!

      Don't think having an iPhone will save you because the FBI have difficulty getting into them, the FBI (in theory) won't drag you down a dark alley, nick your phone and beat the crap out of you if you don't tell them the pass code.

  15. martinusher Silver badge

    Why not just chip people like pets?

    I see that all dogs in the UK have to be chipped so why not just chip humans?

    If that Russian face recognition software is as good as it looks then even that might be redundant.... we know who you are, citizen....

  16. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Just for balance ...

    When my late father died, transferring the car registration into my name was hassle free. As was cancelling his drivers licence. Gold star.

    When I wanted details of a car's registered owner (because they'd bumped mine and someone got their number), although slow (especially since I forgot to include a photo of my damage and they returned the application) but they provided it.

    In fact, I don't think I've ever actually had a problem with them ... except oh yes, there was that time ...

    My old Land Rover is still officially diesel even though it's now petrol - DIY engine change. They won't accept my notification without me going and paying someone to confirm the change, something which on principle I refuse to do. I don't actually care - I've notified them which is all the law requires, and their letters back prove that they have received such a notification.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Just for balance ...

      "They won't accept my notification without me going and paying someone to confirm the change, something which on principle I refuse to do."

      Assuming you use it on the road, won't the next MoT test demonstrate the engine chnage at no additional cost to you? Either that or it's going to give some wild emissions test readings based on the expected ones :-)

      1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Just for balance ...

        > Assuming you use it on the road, won't the next MoT test demonstrate the engine chnage at no additional cost to you?

        You'd think so, but they refused to accept the MoT clearly having had a petrol emissions test.

    2. swampdog

      Re: Just for balance ...

      You actually got a response?

  17. Dr_N Silver badge

    Switching to a smartcard licence ...

    ... and making it mandatory to carry whilst driving (as in every other civilised country in the world) would make more sense.

    1. Bob Rocket

      Re: Switching to a smartcard licence ...

      If it's that feckin smart, why does it need me to carry it round ?

      F.Off with Mandatory ID by whatever door you came in.

      We are civilised because we trust each other, we don't need to prove our id, our actions speak louder than words,pictures and Official ID.

      Do you really trust your Goverment to do 'The Right Thing' without oversight ?

      1. Dr_N Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Switching to a smartcard licence ...

        And that's why there's so much car related crime in the UK compared to elsewhere: anyone fool can drive vehicles around without any documentation whatsoever. Carry on!

    2. swampdog

      Re: Switching to a smartcard licence ...

      That's just silly.

      You're saying only bits of paper can drive cars. Are you asserting google driverless ought to eject the human?

  18. Andy A
    Unhappy

    I've had only one positive experience of the DVLA.

    At one time I had two cars where the Road Fund Licences (I'm not quite old enough to remember when the tax was spent on roads) expired at the same time.

    Both renewal forms arrived in the same envelope!

    The second car is somewhat elderly, and, although the paperwork has progressed through old-style logbook, through V5 and then to V5C, the DVLA continually have problems dealing with it. At one point the "VIN" written down at the MOT testing station didn't quite match that derived from the Logbook. Obviously the same vehicle to anyone with Common Sense, but not to the DVLA. I took copies of everything, including pictures, to their local office for them to put in the internal mail. I got a tax disc while I was there (built before 1973, so no charge) without problem, but they lost the package, resulting in another threatening demand from Swansea.

    Having resubmitted my documentation, Swansea sent me another V5C.

    The following year, I went to the post office to get a tax disc. Having learned by now, I have everything scanned, including the "receipt". Six weeks later I get a demand from the DVLA to return the disc. Apparently the post office clerk was in the wrong for copying the taxation class from the V5C onto the disc. The DVLA had incorrectly changed the class on the V5C from "Historic" to "Not Licenced", and were complaining about the fact that I, and a post office employee, believed them. I sent off the scans, but refused to send the disc until I had a replacement (and yet another V5C).

    I'm glad that these days I don't have to show a disc; I just have a reproduction of one from when the car was new. In those days everything was dealt with in person at a local office. Remember that "Handing in on the first will not do"?

    1. swampdog

      Re: I've had only one positive experience of the DVLA.

      I know your feelings. I got so sick of trying to register a motorbike I gave up and just made up a reg. the local plod knew who I was anyway. Nobody seemed particularly bothered back then.

      Actually, "back then" wasn't all that long ago. Bum!

  19. VinceH Silver badge
    Coat

    "DVLA chief Oliver Morley tweeted a snapshot of the prototype driving licence on his iPhone"

    Why does Simon Moffatt Oliver Morley have a driving licence in the name of Neil Evans? I think questions need to be asked!

    (Just got that correction in before the edit window closed!)

  20. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "Sorry, Officer... I can't show you my license because I'm using my phone to record this traffic stop!"

    Hilarity ensues.

  21. keith_w

    What an insane way to run a Motor Vehicle regime. I pay C$90 for my annual automobile license renewal and and C$90 for my 5year driving license. Our Ministry of Transport doesnt care about anything else, although I do have to tell them about my insurance. And I do it all over the internet if I dont think my picture needs changing. Otherwise, I go for a 1 hour (in queue) visit to my local Service Ontario office and have a new picture taken. The new drivers license shows up in the mail in a couple of weeks. If I sell my car, I keep the plates and then visit the Service Ontario office and give 1/2 of the owner ship paper to the new owner to take to the Service Ontario office to register the vehicle in their name

    1. swampdog

      They can't stuff you realistically because you need to drive. UK gov *thinks* mass transit is in order so we get taxed.

      My car used to do 26mpg around town. It now does 18mpg. Traffic calming. I'm likely to ask for an inhaler next time I see the doc.

  22. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    @ShadySid crashed speed trap + peelers in pursuit. tweet us a DL tootsweet TVM #schtum.

  23. Herby Silver badge

    And I thought the California DMV was bad...

    Nothing compares to this nonsense. Yes, we here in sunny California have this miraculous public service bureau call the Department of Motor Vehicles (commonly referred to as the DMV). They issue drivers licenses and vehicle registrations. Licenses are issued every 4 years (I believe the last one cost $15 or so) and vehicle registrations (which include vehicle property tax) are anywhere from $50 to much more (newer cars). Other than the lines in the local office (about 1/2 day if you don't have an appointment) they aren't too bad. If all you need to do is simple payments, online with a credit card will do, and you can even change addresses as well. The nice drivers license (generally accepted as identification) has a nice mug shot (for quite some time since 1950 I guess) and they changed to color back in the 70's. Luckily you can keep your old license (while they make you a new one you get a note saying "in process") and you go from there. My experience is that they have been relativetly error free (they do serve a population of over 30 million, so I suspect that there are some errors). Overall it has worked out well. The current form is a nice mag-stripe credit card size thing with ALL sorts of validation stuff (holograms, raised signatures, etc.). We haven't gone to virtual (stored on an iPhone) ones yet, but you never know with the younger set so attached to their devices.

    Me? I'm afraid that you might need to insert your license in a slot to get a vehicle to work, and it will broadcast on request to the policeman following you the details. It might get scary in that case. Or as was mentioned above "what could possibly go wrong?".

    1. swampdog

      Re: And I thought the California DMV was bad...

      That sounds terrible. This is supposed to be the land of the free?

      We're moaning in the UK because some of us have to pay <$100 to renew some shit we're not forced to.

      Yes, we might get arrested for not having it but it isn't illegal.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DVLA

    Is it because they're Welsh or that they're civil servants that they're so good at their jobs?

  25. macjules Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    NFC?

    Why would you need NFC on a driving licence, unless you were planning on extending the licence's purpose to other areas?

  26. Outcast

    Lolz

    I'm (Now) a 55 year old trucker. When you get to the age of 45 you have to go or a FULL medical to make sure you're not going to die at the wheel (or less likely anyway).

    I received my "Section 88" at the beginning of March. My Licence expired the day before my 55th birthday (DOB 20th April) so I quickly had my medical and sent it all off.

    3 weeks later the replacement still hadn’t arrived so I did the online check and it showed my LGV had expired.

    So I phoned them up and was made to feel like a naughty schoolboy for asking about it.

    Basically they said "You've got nothing medical wrong with you so you're ok to drive" But that won't wash when you're stopped by DVSA at 02:15 on a rainy monday morning and they check online and... Your licence has expired !

    They impound the wagon !! So our company wouldn't let me out on the road. Miraculously the shunter had a load bar fall on him and was off for a fortnight so I covered in the yard for him.

    The licence still hadn't arrived or the online version updated two weeks afterwards and the shunter was due back. I had to get them to Fax our company a "Section 88" cover note for me.

    I got my shiny licence back last week with my nice UK flag on it !!

    I really don't hold any faith in the licence being digital !!

    http://i.imgur.com/WJ0Qh4J.jpg

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear God.

    As someone who in the not-too-distant past was contracting at the DVLA I can attest to the fact that they really need to slingshot Oliver Morley into the sun. Less time dicking around with "fashionable apps" to make your balls look bigger, and more time actually sorting basic processes out and fixing the existing things that aren't even fully implemented yet (Verify for one!)

    1. Mike Pellatt
      FAIL

      Re: Oh dear God.

      Verify. Don't get me fucking started on that.

      Turned out I needed to sign up to it to submit details of changes in personal circumstances for an adjustment to my tax code via gov.uk or whatever bullshit name the Web 2.x types have dreamt up this week.

      Why they can't passport across my Government Gateway ID that I've been using for well over a decade for Tax, VAT, blood doning and God alone knows what else and thus should be more than good enough to verify my identity I can't fathom. Other than sheer incompetence and lack of understanding. Oh yes, see "Web 2.x types".

      Anyways, go through all the rigmarole, 30 minutes later get verify from the Post Office because I distrust them slightly less than the other providers on offer. Of course, they've ambled off to the credit reference agencies for info to ask questions that might confirm I'm who I say I am. Go back to the gov.uk site, sign in, submit the changes. Sorry, for some reason I totally forget now the changes I want to make can't be submitted here. Please call us or write.

      So I go back to the old HMRC site with my GG ID. Happily submit the changes via that route which is mercifully still working, new tax code issued within 2 weeks, no painful phone call or expensive letter required.

      Someone please put the almost-entirely-still-Beta-flagged gov.uk and the crowd who work on it at the Cabinet Office out of our misery ASAP and tell HMRC there's (comparatively) little wrong with what they're doing at the moment and rip-and-replace is NOT required after all.

  28. unwarranted triumphalism

    If you can't even get it together to get a driving licence why should you be allowed to vote?

  29. The Boojum

    I'll stick with my pre-photocard all-paper licence for as long as it remains legal thank you very much.

  30. CmdrX3

    It's a government department...

    ...I would be more inclined to ask "What could possibly go right?"

  31. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    What's the point?

    A driving licence has only one purpose, to show that you are licenced to drive a vehicle. You need to show it to a car hire firm if you're renting a car, or to a police officer when requested. In the latter case you have 48 hours to produce the licence at a police station.

    That's it. So why would it be 'handy' to have it on a phone if you're only going to show it to someone once in ten years?

    A driving licence is NOT an ID document. Same with passports - their only purpose is to be shown at borders to allow you to enter a country.

    When someone asks me for photo ID I say i don't drive and don't have a passport, and what are they going to do about it. This is the UK, ID is an alien concept. If I say who I am that should be sufficient for anyone, unless they know to the contrary.

    David Cameron

    10 Downing Street

    London

  32. TRT Silver badge

    You get pulled over...

    Can I see your phone? Oh, that came to hand rather easily... Whammy you with a mobile use fine.

  33. Blacklight
    Devil

    Elementary...

    Well, combine it with ANPR/speed camera and facial recognition...

    "You have....FIVE...points remaining on your licence...."

  34. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    Back to the old days?

    "Good Consternoon, afterbul! I'm not as drink as you thunk I am"

    "Can I see your driving licence"

    "Hic - here"

    "Where's your counterpart?"

    "She's getting rat-faced in the pub, naturally!"

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