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ACFO welcomes free DVLA licence checks but says key issues remain

ACFO is working closely with the DVLA in the development of its new Share My Driving Record (SMDR) web-based service, which is being introduced following the Government’s decision to abolish the paper counterpart of the photocard driving licence by 2015.

ACFO director Julie Jenner 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.’

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 added: ‘It is possible that employers may amend current employee documents to the effect that they will have permission to access their driving record via SMDR while they remain an employee of the business.

‘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.’

DVLA plans to have an SMDR working prototype available shortly and undertake testing with ACFO members and other organisations over the coming months.

Pryor said: ‘We have seen the prototype and it seems to work well. It is the fine minutiae that require to be worked on, but we are hopeful that the system will be up and running by the time the paper counterpart is officially abolished.’

Jenner added: ‘The timetable is tight and if the DVLA believes it will not meet the 1st January 2015 deadline for abolition of the paper counter of the driving licence with implementation of the online service we would welcome early clarification.

‘Fleet managers require time to amend policies and procedures and they need to be certain that the new system is working efficiently and effectively. Any delay could easily be dealt with at this stage, but may be a bigger issue closer to 2015.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.