Fleet News

Licences could be checked without drivers’ consent

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.”

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  • Jeff Lester - 15/08/2014 12:53

    Would be welcome news as streamlining health and safety compliance is what SME's are desperate for...

  • Jeff Lester - 15/08/2014 12:53

    Would be welcome news as streamlining health and safety compliance is what SME's are desperate for...

  • Edward Handley - 15/08/2014 14:59

    Its not just employers who need access to the data currently shown on the counterpart. A lot of thought seems to have gone into who can look at a driver's endorsements but so far I have not heard how vocational trainers and training establishemnts can easily verify if a driver has the necessary provisional licence. It is easy for ordinary car driving schools because provisional licence holders have a yellow provisional licence photocard, but truck, bus, minibus some motorcycle learners have a full licence photocard which does not show the provisional licence entitlements. Does this mean that trainers will need to phone DVLA every time they pick up a new trainee driver? If so, it will mean DVLA have to deal with a lot of extra calls. In practice I suspect that trainers will have to have 3G enabled tablets so they can access the DVLA database as many trainers work at weekends, and if the system is open enough to enable any trainer can check on a licence holder's provisional licence status it will mean that the DVLA database is effectively wide open.

  • Eddie Graham - 16/08/2014 11:19

    I work with organisations who already have in place a relationship or partnership with a third party licence checking company, which for years has worked exceptionally well and from what I read above will work even better now. What people need to realise is that all these years they have been looking at a counterpart and card and its all been pointless. Even the experts cannot see if a driver has an issue with the licence, so going through a managed service and portal will always ensure compliance with a full audit trail. We have customers who use various licence checking companies and although they have different applications, they all the main job and it has proved to be well worth the money spent for the service. ACFO have never endorsed licence chekcing and effectively in their papers have only asked fleet managers that all they need to do it look at it and take a copy, they have no idea. What they have done is push the DVLA into developing a portal now that allows the record to be shared, which for now will be free, but be assured it will cost at some point soon. I am concerned that without knowledge to the driver that someone could easily get a licence number and enter this in a portal with a mobile number and that mobile will receive a text message pin code number. So effectively the DVLA licence checks will be open to abuse by many and all of us could easily have our records been viewed unlawfully. I have seen the BETA site for this and although it works easily enough, I am concerned of the easy abuse of licence records. Third party licence checking companies are under a code of conduct, some even have ISO27001, so its more ribust and data is handled more securely protecting the driver information. I take the point from Jeff Lester that red tape will help assist organisations, it will now, but the use of one piece of paper to obtain consent should not get in the way and the form lasts for years. I am delighted the DVLA have moved forward, but ACFO are taken credit for a system only to deliver a FREE check, this does not support data protection and they themselves who head up fleets in their own fields will still need the help of a third party licence checking company for their expert advice.

  • Bob the Engineer - 17/08/2014 14:49

    Yet another chip away at an individual's privacy and rights.... If an employer is shown what appears to be a valid licence and the employee signs a declaration that it is a truthful document and confirms their eligibility to drive - the employer should be sufficiently covered without further checking. If I put an expense receipt in for lunch, the receipt and my signed expense form is sufficient proof. No one hooks into Littlechef's computer to verify I really did buy a meat pie and chips!!!, same with fuel and hundred of other things I sign for and certify as part my job - why do fleet managers feel so vulnerable that they have to run a KGB operation. Getting a bit silly now.

  • Up The Mariners - 18/08/2014 14:40

    Bob, with regard to why does the employer need to know, it is all very well the employee showing the car admin department a current driving licence but they wouldn't do that for every time that person drove a company car. What if a driver is banned from driving, continues to drive then is involved in an incident that kills someone whilst driving on company business. A lawyer somewhere would be after some massive compensation and rightly so but the driver who would likely be not insured would not be able to pay so they would look to the employer under corporate responsibility. If the employer is shown to be regularly checking a driver's licence then hopefully they should be covered.

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