Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nova Scotia introduces new "secure" ID and licenses; fails to mention use of biometrics

The Government of Nova Scotia just announced that it is introducing new "secure" provincial ID cards and drivers licenses.

What they failed to mention in any of their press releases or in any of the media coverage is that the new system will incorporate facial recognition technology. How this will be used or controlled is still unclear.

I contacted the province, which confirmed the use of facial recognition, but was unable to provide me with any information about the incidence of forgery and fraud that they use to justify the new licenses.

Privacy geeks will recall that the provincial authority in British Columbia offered police the use of their massive biometric database to identify people involved in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot. (Canadian Privacy Law Blog: ICBC offers up its drivers' license database (with facial recognition) to ID Vancouver rioters) Who controls the database and how it will be used is very important, and very unclear at the moment.

Added later: See below for some follow-up questions and answers.

Here's their media release:

New Secure Driver’s Licence and Photo ID Cards

Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal/Service Nova Scotia

October 10, 2017 12:44 PM

Nova Scotia driver’s licence and photo ID cards will soon be better protected against identity theft, fraud and forgery.

Nova Scotia and the three other Atlantic provinces, are introducing a new, highly secure driver’s licence and photo ID card. Starting in November, the cards will be printed at a central facility shared by all four provinces and mailed to clients within 14 days.

“The main reason for this change is to protect Nova Scotians against identity theft and fraud,” said Lloyd Hines, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. “These changes will help us keep pace with the latest security and technology advances, and bring us in line with the rest of the country.”

Nova Scotians do not need to get a new licence or photo ID card until their current one is up for renewal. Since the cards will no longer be printed at Access Nova Scotia Centres and Registry of Motor Vehicles offices, clients renewing their licence will be given a 30-day temporary document to use until their new licence arrives.

There will be a strict review process before cards are issued to help prevent fraud and identify theft. Highly advanced, anti-counterfeiting security features will also help ensure they cannot be copied using new printing technologies.

"As Nova Scotia's provincial police, the RCMP is pleased to see any initiative that decreases opportunities for fraudulent activity," says Chief Superintendent Marlene Snowman, Nova Scotia RCMP Criminal Operations Officer. "Police officers often rely on the validity of licence information for a variety of reasons so these changes will make a positive difference for frontline officers across the province."

Access Nova Scotia will start to move to the new process for driver’s licences and photo ID cards next month with full implementation expected to be in place by the end of December.

In December 2016, the four Atlantic provinces awarded Gemalto, a world leader in digital security, a five-year contract to produce and mail the driver's licences and photo ID cards.

There is no fee increase for the new driver’s licence and photo ID card. The new cards will be implemented over the next five years as driver’s licences expire.

Edit: I asked the government some follow-up questions and the Q/A is below ...

For more information, visit .

Edit: I had some follow-up questions for the government's spokesperson. Here are my questions and the answers:

The new IDs will bring NS in line with the cutting edge of security features. That being said, protecting the privacy of citizens remains a top priority. The sole purpose of the facial recognition is to help identify individuals attempting to obtain fraudulent duplicate IDs. The province has no authority to share it for any other purpose, with any other entity, unless ordered by the courts. To your specific questions:

1. Will the biometric database be managed by the contractor or by the government? Government

2. If by the government, which department? Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and Service Nova Scotia.

3. Will the database for NS be combined with those of the other provinces? No

4. Was a privacy impact assessment carried out? If so, by whom? Was it reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner? Yes, the PIA was conducted by Nicom IT and IAP Services (at the department of Internal Services) has participated in the process, reviewed and recommended for approval, also as per their usual practice. It will be provided to the Commissioner for their records.

5. Are there any policies in place or being developed for access to or use of the database, other than administration of the license/ID card system? No.

6. Will any contents of the database be provided to any other government and under what circumstances? No.

7. Will faces in the database be matched to any other database? No.

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