Seeing is Believing

Spurred by a random comment from a co-worker of mine last night during a post-work wings & beer gathering, I decided today to look into the information on the back of my new Alberta Driver's Licence. For those of you who haven't seen one yet (I saw many of them when working as a bouncer, and I just recently got my own) they have a strip on the back that consists of some form of binary encoded information.

My question was, of course, _what_ information.

So, I've been phone-tagging this morning, to a few government departments, where at least one of them told me that it's just what's on the front of the license, excluding the picture. I'm reasonably sure that this is the case, but it does seem to me that there is too much information on the back for it to be that simple. As near as I can tell, there are 5,824 bits of information stored on the back, or 728 bytes. Even leaving aside compression, and making a conservative estimate as to the size of the data fields, there is about 300 bytes of textual data on the card. Say, a maximum of 400. Now compression can reduce text to sometimes as little as 25% of its size, although one can't guarantee that compression is being used, since it's highly likely that the information is encrypted, which usually resists compression.

That being said, what is the rest of the info? Some of it would be checksum data to validate the info on the strip, but I can't imagine that all of it would be. What information about myself am I carrying around?

The departments I spoke to are reluctant to provide me with real information about it, although I should be receiving a call today to make an appointment with Registries to go in and at least see what they see when my license is scanned. It's a small step, but I'd like to verify at least that much.

I know that it's not likely, but if any of my readers has more information about this, or even knows how to go about hunting more down, I'd love to hear it.

Comments !