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ACFO welcomes free online DVLA driver licence checking service

Date: 25 July 2014   |   Author:

The Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO) has welcomed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)'s decision to let employers check the validity of employees' driving licences through a free online service.

BusinessCar broke the story at the start of November last year after the DVLA revealed the plans at an ACFO meeting.

The online service follows the Government's decision to abolish the paper counterpart of the photocard driving licence by 2015.

The DVLA is expecting to launch the free service soon following testing with ACFO members and other organizations in the coming months.

ACFO has worked with the DVLA to develop its new Share My Driving Record (SMDR) web-based service.

Julie Jenner, ACFO director, said: "We hugely welcome engagement with the DVLA and we are delighted that it has listened to our view that access should be free."

Not charging users for SMDR is based on the service providing the basic information available on the counterpart - personal details, endorsements and entitlements - which the driver can currently present free of charge to their employer.

However, the DVLA has said that while access to the new SMDR service will initially be free it will keep that position under review.

Jenner said: "It would be completely wrong and a financial burden on business to charge for information that is currently freely available."

Drivers are currently able to access the information the DVLA holds on their licence by inputting their driving licence number, National Insurance number and postcode. However, it remains to be seen which access controls will apply to the SMDR with the DVLA saying that it is trialling a number of options and will continue to obtain feedback pending a final decision.

It has also emerged that once the paper counterpart has been abolished the DVLA may no longer need to rely on a driver's "explicit consent to legitimately process their sensitive personal data for driver entitlement checking purposes".

Currently, to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, driver data can only be disclosed for driver entitlement checking purposes with the explicit consent of the data subject. Consent is valid for up to three years and, in most cases, is recorded on a paper mandate for audit purposes.

However, the DVLA is currently in discussion with ACFO and other organisations on how SMDR will be accessed to ensure security controls are robust to prevent fraud and other misuses of data.

It is understood that employers may still need to be able to demonstrate that the data was accessed for a legitimate purpose, and will still need to inform drivers that they intend to request their personal data from the DVLA, but the detailed audit requirements will depend on the technical solution adopted.

ACFO chairman John Pryor said: "Database security is a major issue for ACFO members.

"It is vital that access is tightly controlled and we continue to liaise with the DVLA on the issue. The information needed to access SMDR must be unique and should not be easy to collate."

Referring to the potential non-requirement of any mandate, Jenner said: "This will I'm sure be welcomed from a fleet manager administration viewpoint. Employers already hold the personal details of their employees - such as their bank account details - and the principle is similar."

Pryor said it was possible employers may amend current employee documents to the effect that they will have permission to access their driving record through SMDR while they remain an employee of the business.

Pryor said: "What we have yet to learn is what the penalties will be, if any, for people who access the database without the permission of the driver and how will anyone find out if that happens."