In his opening address at the CeBIT conference on Monday 5 May 2014, Attorney General, Senator George Brandis announced that Australia’s Document Verification Service (DVS) was now available to the private sector.
Originally launched in 2005 as a tool to support law enforcement and national security activities, Australia’s DVS is becoming a broader enabler of the digital economy, according to Senator Brandis.
In December 2013, Brandis’ Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) contracted Oakton to re-build, host and manage its Document Verification Service (DVS) for $4.7 million. The contract expires on 30 June 2017.
“The DVS is a secure, online system that provides for automated checks of the accuracy and validity of information on the key government documents commonly presented as evidence of identity,” according to the AGD website.
Oakton was expected to move the current DVS from a legacy IBM DB2 Platform to a new Microsoft .NET SQL server within a period of 6 months from award of contract.
While acknowledging it was still early days for the DVS Commercial Service, Senator Brandis claimed there was strong interest in the service, citing 23 active private sector users and over 160 private sector applications approved for the service.
To date, private sector use of the DVS is largely focused on the financial and telecommunications sector. The DVS makes it easier for banks to detect money laundering or for mobile phone companies to verify the identities of those who purchase prepaid sim cards, by letting organisations verify information on government identity documents such as driver’s licences, passports, Medicare cards with the issuing agency.
DVS checks are conducted via a secure online system providing a ‘yes/no’ response in one to two seconds. Privacy considerations are at the forefront of the DVS design, according to Senator Brandis.
He indicated that the Federal Government is working with its State and Territories counterparts to extend DVS access businesses with identity verifications requirements and for e-conveyancing, electricity distribution, and ‘working with children’ checks. The DVS could potentially be relevant to a broader range of businesses who needed to verify identity of their staff or customers, in accordance with the privacy act.