The DVLA may no longer need a driver’s explicit consent to lawfully share their personal data with employers to establish whether they are entitled to drive.
Currently, to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998, the information the Government agency holds can be disclosed only with a driver’s permission.
Consent is valid for up to three years and, in most cases, is recorded on a paper mandate for audit purposes.
However, in giving an update on a new, free online licence-checking service for fleets called Share My Driving Record (SMDR), the DVLA suggests it could rely on another section of the law to avoid the requirement for an employee’s explicit consent.
Employers would just need to inform drivers that they intended to request their personal data from the DVLA. They may still be required to demonstrate that it was accessed for a legitimate purpose.
Julie Jenner, ACFO director, said: “This will, I’m sure, be welcomed by a fleet manager from an administration viewpoint. Employers already hold personal details of employees, such as bank account details, and the principle is similar.”
The DPA controls how an individual’s personal data is used by organisations, businesses or the Government. Everyone who is responsible for using data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’.
They must make sure the information is used fairly and lawfully, used for limited, specifically stated purposes, and in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive.
Additionally, the law insists that information is accurate, kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary and handled according to people’s data protection rights. It also states that data must be kept safe and secure and not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection.
John Pryor, ACFO chairman, said: “It is possible that employers may amend 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.”
The service is being developed to give an alternative to those fleets that use the paper counterpart to check an employee’s entitlement once that system is scrapped from January 2015.
The new service will provide the basic information currently available on the counterpart – personal details, endorsements and entitlements – which the driver can currently present free of charge to their employer.
Not charging users for SMDR is based on that like-for-like provision of data, but the DVLA says it will keep that position under review.
Pryor and Jenner have been working closely with the DVLA for more than 12 months on the development of the online licence-checking service.
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.”
The SMDR service is now in the final weeks of testing and the DVLA says it has continued to use insight and feedback gained from visits to potential users before launching the web-based service. It expects to have a working prototype this month.
Drivers are currently able to go online and 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 what access controls will apply to the SMDR. 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 DVLA is hoping to provide fleets with an update soon. But it said: “We are trialling a number of options and will continue to gather user feedback.”