Data Privacy & Your Driver's Licence

image of BC Driver's LicenceData privacy is something that we all need to be concerned about today. Did you ever think about what might be contained in that magnetic stripe on the back of your driver's licence? Here's a story from the DriveSmartBC inbox:

Data Privacy Breach

I just had the magnetic stripe on the back side of my driver's licence scanned by a clerk at a business before I could stop her. She asked for photo ID and I understood she wanted to verify my identity (for an $8.00 return item). She said that the reason for the scan was that the business likes to keep track of who is using their gift cards.

Taken Without Consent

I have no problem with ID verification, but I am furious that this chain's business model seems to include the casual theft of all the personal data that could be contained in the magnetic stripe on the back side of our driver's licences. 

There is absolutely no reason they need bio-metric data or anything beyond my photo and name.

What Should I Do?

Can you please tell me what data is stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card, and whether it is all available to any device that can scan the magnetic stripe?

Back Side of BC Driver's Licence

Data Sources & Content

There are three sources of data on the back of your driver's licence, a magnetic stripe and two kinds of bar codes. They contain at least the following information:

  • Driver's licence number, class & restrictions
  • Full name
  • Complete address
  • Birthdate
  • Height, weight, hair & eye colour

The business has no right to this information unless you choose to give it to them voluntarily. Even then, the collection, storage and use of the data may be regulated by our government.

What To Do About a Data Privacy Breach

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is responsible to investigate and resolve most privacy complaints in B.C. This would be the best place to start if you feel that you have been the subject of a data privacy breach.

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Many employers will ask to photocopy your license so they have you 'on file'.

But nobody actually has any right to do so. If they want to verify your driving record, ICBC makes it easy for you to send an abstract to them.

In this age where identity theft becomes more common (it's happened to me), providing personal details is foolish. Especially when even our site host is uncertain what info is provided.