The Conveyancing Association (CA) has responded to the Department for Digital, Media, Culture & Sport’s consultation on Digital Identity.
The Department is asking for responses on how the government ‘can support the development and secure use of digital identities … for the UK’s growing digital economy’ from all those ‘who anticipate being a consumer or creator of digital identity tools or services, and those focused on protecting civil liberties’.
In its response, the CA outlines the importance of ID checks in the homebuying and selling process however expresses concern about the number of checks consumers currently have to go through, the different ways ID is required, the costs involved, and whether the current paper-based system that many practitioners currently use, is the best way to combat fraudulent activity against the industry.
The CA is supportive of the production of a government-led digital identity which can be accessed by stakeholders and provide ‘one source of truth’ to be relied upon. Its objective is to ensure that the digital standards set by any government ID programme are in keeping with the needs of the conveyancing market and consumers, and wants to ensure there is a move away from a reliance on documentation which is susceptible to fraud.
The CA says its response highlights how important it is that any digital ID can be linked to a property so that conveyancing firms can be confident that the individual they are dealing with is the registered proprietor of that property.
One of the ideas highlighted in the government’s consultation is that it might utilise the data it currently holds for individuals’ passports, with the idea that it could then open this up to be accessed, and used, as an ID verification tool. The CA would like to see the use of biometric data in any plan to deliver a government-led digital identity scheme.
Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, said: “Improving ID verification has been a key workstream for the CA for a number of years and we have strongly advocated a centralised Government system which allows us to access its data, and provides far greater confidence in the individuals who present themselves to us, and who we are to represent.
“As conveyancers, our members see this as the last blockage in the system in terms of validating the clients we deal with, and ensuring they are who they say they are, and they are the owners of the properties we are dealing with. This is an opportunity to drive proof of ID in the UK away from a paper-based system to one that has a central government source, is accessible to trusted sources, and has the ability to give us complete confidence in the individual.
“For some time there has been a lack of an acceptable standard and our response to this consultation highlights the standards that we want to see which will ensure we can verify and authenticate our clients with the minimum of fuss and cost, and will help consumers in that they won’t need to provide multiple copies of their ID in different formats to the many stakeholders within the process that need it.
“The conveyancing sector remains one which fraudsters will continue to target, however given that much of the ‘successful’ property fraud perpetrated is as a result of ID issues, it is imperative that we get to a new system. We would urge all our member firms to issue their own responses to this consultation, which closes for contributions on the 15 September.”