Courts modify fines system to boost privacy

Recent modifications to enable fine-payers to identify themselves in a wider range of ways took longer than expected, but the Department for Courts' online payment facility is again open for business.

Recent modifications to enable fine-payers to identify themselves in a wider range of ways took longer than expected, but the Department for Courts’ online payment facility is again open for business.

The enhancements to Fines On-Line were made to allow payers to choose any of a range of ways in which to identify themselves besides their credit card number. The move should improve protection of an individual’s privacy against, for example, another user investigating what fines the individual owes.

The amendments were to have finished by Christmas, but ran into a Christmas-New Year freeze on new application implementation, imposed because of the limited number of staff who would be “on deck” to manage any problems over the break.

Fines On-Line is attracting a rapidly growing amount of custom, with a number of people — consultant Graeme Astle declines to say how many — choosing to pay outstanding fines with credit cards.

The prime concern of the system, which has been running since mid-to-late 2000, was security, both up-front on the site and throughout the process. The department developed its own credit card submission software, rather than going for one of the packaged options offered by banks.

But, like other developers of government payment systems, Astle says the up-front aspect was the less complex side. “We had to be certain we were comfortable with the processes that went on behind that; to ensure that any payment went to the right place.”

The site was designed by Wellington-based Zoe Communications.

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