Friday, February 06, 2009

High Tech B.C. Driver's Licence


VANCOUVER – British Columbians will soon be carrying new, redesigned, high-tech driver’s licences that will be harder to alter, forge or obtain under different identities than current licences, Solicitor General John van Dongen announced today as part of government’s latest efforts to prevent identity theft and other criminal activity.

“Driver’s licences are widely trusted as ID and, when tampered with, can cost people, businesses and financial institutions millions of dollars each year,” said van Dongen. “The cutting-edge features we are introducing, like facial recognition technology, will greatly enhance the integrity of these cards as identification.”

The new and improved security features, which will also apply to a new B.C. Identification card, include:

· Facial recognition technology, which 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. This technology will provide strong protection against identity theft and fraud, and help prevent prohibited drivers from obtaining licences in false names.

· Counterfeit-prevention devices like holographic overlays and laser-engraving or raising of features like the cardholder’s image and signature, plus a second “ghosted” image printed at a different depth in the card than the primary photo, for added security.

· New polycarbonate card stock, which is much more tamper-resistant and durable than the existing, plastic cards.

· Elaborate graphic designs that incorporate a B.C. mountain range, the Steeples in the Kootenay River Valley, on the driver’s licence and an orca on the ID card. Designed to meet North American information placement standards, the cards also use larger type for easier reading of key information.

· Additional text to identify cardholders under 19 years old. This feature is common on ID cards but will be unique on B.C. driver’s licences. It will make it easier for police, licensed establishments and retailers of tobacco, alcohol and lottery products to quickly verify a cardholder’s legal age.

“Criminal organizations keep getting more sophisticated in their fake-ID manufacturing capabilities,” said Sgt. Rick Koop of the RCMP’s B.C. Commercial Crime Section. “The new security features for the new driver’s licences are a timely and effective response to a variety of unlawful activities, including cases where individuals apply for a licence under an assumed name because they’ve been prohibited from driving, and where organized criminals are involved in large-scale credit fraud.”

ICBC will begin issuing the new documents on March 2, 2009 to customers who apply for a new, renewed or replacement B.C. Driver’s Licence or B.C. Identification card. Holders of existing, valid licences and cards can continue to use them until they expire. As such, both new and existing licences and cards will be in use over the next five years.

“The process to obtain a new or renewed driver’s licence will remain virtually unchanged, except for the requirement for customers to maintain a neutral facial expression for their card photo, and the current fees will not change,” said Fred Hess, vice president of driver licensing at ICBC.

Photo driver’s licences were first issued in B.C. in 1972. Digital photography was introduced to the cards in 1996, and in 2003, further improvements made the cards more tamper- and counterfeit-resistant.


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