British Columbia

Secure driver's licences target ID theft in B.C.

New high-tech driver's licences designed to prevent identity theft and fraud will soon make their debut in British Columbia.

New high-tech driver's licences designed to prevent identity theft and fraud will debut in March in British Columbia.

Security features will include holographic overlays and laser-engraving or raised elements such as the cardholder’s image and signature.

Solicitor-General John van Dongen said Friday the new licences would be hard to forge or to procure under false names.

"Driver's licences are widely trusted as ID and, when tampered with, can cost people, business and financial institutions millions of dollars each year," van Dongen said in a statement.

The B.C. government said the cards will incorporate technology that analyzes characteristics that do not change, such as the size and location of cheekbones and the distance between the eyes. This "facial recognition technology ... will enable ICBC to compare a cardholder’s image with their existing image on file and with the corporation’s entire database of millions of images," the government said in a press release. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia issues licences in B.C.

Conforms to privacy rules

The technology does not include collecting any new information about drivers, van Dongen said.

"The use of facial recognition technology has been reviewed for privacy implications and has been found to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."

Sgt. Rick Koop of the RCMP's B.C. Commercial Crime Section said the secure cards will be difficult for criminals to counterfeit.

The cards will also provide additional information for cardholders under the age of 19, so it will be easier for police and retailers of alcohol, tobacco and lottery products to quickly verify a person's age.

B.C. is joining other provinces and 30 U.S. jurisdictions by introducing the licences, which will be issued starting March 2 to drivers who apply for a new, renewed or replacement card.

A year ago, B.C. began issuing what it calls one of the world's most high-tech birth certificates, with more than 20 security features.