Well hello there. It has been a long time since we saw each other and it is completely my fault. I am so sorry that I have not been able to write anything for you these past few months. I have had a bad case of writer’s block, which is a very delicate way of me saying that even by my low, low standards nothing I have written lately has been worth sharing with you. Someone as special and as beautiful as you deserves only the very best things in life, whether that be in love, in lifestyle, in literature, or in alliteration.
While this little post is well below the quality you deserve, I hope you will be prepared to slum it just this once by reading to its end. If it helps, you can imagine yourself as Princess Jasmine and my writing as Aladdin, or you as LeBron James and me the Los Angeles Lakers, or (perhaps the most accurate analogy) you as my wife and me as me. With that, let me show you the world, and the indescribable feelings, that come with learning about the recent release of digital drivers’ licenses in New South Wales. By the end of it, hopefully you can let your heart decide whether to get one or not.
Earlier this week, New South Wales became the first * Australian State or Territory to offer a digital drivers’ license to all current and future New South Wales drivers’ license holders. It is available through an app for your iPhone or Android device at Services NSW’s fine website.
I have downloaded the app and set myself up with one of these digital licenses. I mention this only because if I can do it, anyone can do it and probably with a lot less of the swearing, phone restarting, phone smashing, backup phone finding, backup phone restarting, additional swearing, and neighbour apologising it took me to get the app installed.
And just like that I now have a digital drivers’ license. Before you and I go out clubbing at the local community centre’s Drum ‘n Bass ‘n Fruit Punch Night carrying nothing but our digital ID on our phones and the desire to dance in our hearts, there are a few things we should know about our fancy new digital drivers licenses.
Firstly, despite its name and just about every single last bit of information on the Services NSW website, that thing we thought was a digital drivers’ license is not an actual drivers’ license. Confused? Yes, I was too, even more than usual.
If you read into the terms and conditions that we must accept when applying for a digital drivers’ license, you will see that a digital license is actually a digital representation of your old school plastic driver’s license, not a full replacement for it. That is, a digital license is a confirmation that you have a plastic driver’s license and that it is valid. That means that not only can you not throw away your plastic license when you get a digital one, but that you should also carry your plastic license with you any time you might need to use your digital license. That’s the efficiency of digital technology for you, folks. It saves you absolutely no time and absolutely no effort.
Services NSW is crystal clear in its T&Cs that they will not be liable in any way if a police officer or overly aggressive door person at the community centre refuses to accept your digital license for any reason, including because they have no idea such radical new technology exists. Also, if your luck is anything like mine then your phone will die just as you make it to the front of the club’s entry queue. Unless your local bouncer is particularly resourceful and generous, they are unlikely to carry a phone charger on them nor have the patience to wait while you charge your phone up. At least plastic licenses don’t need charging so you can whip it out (your plastic license, not anything else, you dirty, dirty person you) if your phone lets you down at a crucial club queuing moment.
Also, it is illegal to use your phone while behind the wheel of an operating motor vehicle. So unless the police specifically tell you it is OK, you should not access your digital driver’s license when your car is running, including when it is stationary. You will have to turn your car off, then access your phone, then show the friendly police officer your digital driver’s license, then thank them and put your phone back before starting your car and driving on your merry way.
And finally, as with all things internet related, you should consider exactly what level of phone access you are giving to Services NSW when you download and use their digital drivers’ license application. If you are one of those poor souls using an Android phone you will get a warning message when you download the app telling you that, by installing and using it, you are giving Services NSW access to your camera, your microphone, your location, your address book, your personal information, and your blood type (probably). Download it from the Apple App Store and you will be warned that the app will get access to your camera and your location. Whether you can live with that is a choice for you alone to make. I mean, nothing bad could come by giving a massive government organisation unrestricted access to the private information on your phone, right?
Now in the interests of fairness and balance, Services NSW has said that it does not collect any private data through the app. Their precise statement is:
Service NSW has built the app to deliver an exceptional experience and not to monitor our customers.”
And with that, you now know all you need to know about digital driver’s licenses in the fine state of New South Wales. It is time for me to resume my period of writer’s block, time for you to decide whether to embrace a digital license, and time for us to get together and watch Aladdin (the original cartoon version, not the live action abomination that came out earlier this year).
* if you ignore South Australia, which everybody does.