The government’s document verification service (DVS) is up and running, with at least 23 private sector companies signing up for the service, according to Australia’s Attorney-General, George Brandis.
Senator Brandis, who spoke today at the opening of the CeBIT business technology conference in Sydney, said that the government’s DVS had also recorded its first 2000 transactions with private sector companies.
"This morning I am pleased to announce that the DVS commercial service is now operational," Brandis said at the event. "While still early days, there has been strong interest in the service. Over 160 private sector applications have been approved. The service now has 23 active private sector users. And the first 2000 private sector transactions have already been completed."
The DVS was first announced in 2006 under the former Howard government to allow government agencies to check the validity of identity documents being used by people applying for benefits or services.
However, the launch of the system did not go smoothly, with a 2010 audit report into the system identifying that agencies had been reluctant to use the system because it was not reliable or convenient compared to other methods.
Late last year, the government signed off on a rebuild of the DVS, with IT services company, Oakton, winning the $4.8 million three-year contract to overhaul the service.
For Brandis, the DVS now represents a "vital" element in Australia's digital landscape, particularly in the banking and telecommunications sectors.
"It is fast becoming a vital enabler of the digital economy," he said. "Private sector use of the DVS is largely focused on companies in the financial and telecommunications sectors. The DVS makes it easier for banks to prevent people from using fake identities and makes it easier for mobile phone providers to check the identities of people purchasing prepaid SIM cards."
Brandis also defended the service's privacy security credentials, saying that it was not a database of personal information.
"Privacy considerations were at the forefront of the DVS design. The system is not a database and it does not store any personal information. All DVS checks must be done with the consent of individuals," he said.
Brandis said that there are currently around 20 government agencies that issue and manage the 50 million or more government-issued documents that constitute the "foundation of our national identity infrastructure", with the DVS being used by an increasing number of these agencies.
Accordig to Brandis, the federal government is now working with the nation's states and territories to expand the DVS service in the private sector.