Government opens Document Verification Service to private sector

DVS commercial service operational, attorney-general says

Private sector organisations have begun employing a government service that can be used to certify the validity of certain personal ID documents, the federal attorney-general, George Brandis, announced this morning.

The attorney-general told the CeBIT trade show in Sydney this morning that the first commercial transactions employing the Document Verification Service (DVS) have taken place.

The DVS lets organisations confirm the accuracy of government-issued documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licences, Medicare cards and passports in real time, verifying that the information on a document matches government records.

The service is part of the Council of Australian Government’s National Identity Security Strategy and is designed to cut down on identity fraud.

Private sector use of the service has been mooted since 2012.

“This morning I’m pleased to announce that the DVS commercial service is now operational,” the attorney-general said.

“While still early days, there has been strong interest in the service,” Brandis said.

More than 160 private sector applications have been approved and there are 23 private users of the DVS.

“The first few thousand private sector transactions have already been completed,” the attorney-general said.

“Private sector use of the DVS is largely focused on companies in the financial and telecommunications sectors,” he added.

“The DVS makes it easier for banks to detect money laundering using fake identities and makes it easier for mobile phone providers to check the identities of people purchasing prepaid SIM cards to help prevent criminals using their phones to mask their activities.

“It also helps ensure the accuracy of telephone account information used for important public functions like emergency warnings.”

The federal and state governments are working “to further expand DVS access across the private sector” to businesses including e-conveyancing, utilities and those requiring working with children checks.

“Having appropriate privacy safeguards is of course important to maintaining public trust and confidence in the system,” Brandis said

The extension of DVS access to the private sector has been the source of privacy concerns.

“The DVS is a clear indication that privacy and security need not be mutually exclusive in the online environment," Brandis said. Government and businesses need to respect the right to privacy by only requesting the verification of someone’s perspective when necessary, the attorney-general said.