To: Your CA Assemblyman / Senator
Subject: Opposition to AB 199 (Calderon) - California Online Notary Act of 2019
Dear: Honorable Your CA Assemlyman / Senator
I am a California resident, and I oppose the webcam and electronic notary bill for the reasons stated below. Please vote "NO" on AB 199 - Electronic Notarization Laws.
AB 199, if passed, will compromise notarial acts and ruin the careers of tens of thousands of notaries public. It will also burden small businesses already conducting electronic notarizations ("e-notarizations").
The only purpose of AB 199 is to benefit a few high-tech companies by legalizing webcam notarizations (e.g., allowing the use of audio or video conferencing technology and recordings when performing notarial acts) and thus creating a governmentally sanctioned monopoly.
Why you must vote "NO" on AB 199:
Point 1- AB 199 permits "video and audio" recording as an acceptable method for identifying the signer. The use of webcam notarization will compromise notarial acts. Audio/Video can be created from anywhere by any means. The requirement that the signer be physically present is the basis of every notarial act and is necessary to ensure a valid notarization. A failure to require the physical presence of the signer contradicts the California Civil Code, which requires the signer to appear personally before the notary.
A notary's duty is to ensure that the signer is competent, is not being coerced, and is signing the document freely and willingly. How can a notary using a webcam to perform a notarial act for an elderly person (for instance) ensure that the signer has not been coerced into signing a will or power of attorney by a criminally-minded family member or health care provider? The source of coercion may be present in the same room or nearby but not visible to the webcam notary. Furthermore, how can a notary ensure that an identification card has not tampered with without actually physically inspecting it? It cannot be done.
Point 2 - Economic Impact to the State. Notarize.com 's CEO, Pat Kinsel, located in the commonwealth of Virginia, has openly stated that by states not giving additional thought to policies of economic impact they will certainly (not maybe) be able to extract out of California $250 Million per year if Notarize.com only gets a conservative 25% share of the market. How so? Pat Kinsel of Notarize.com is calling the notary industry a $30 Billion Industry. Quick math says that California should see about a billion dollars of notarizations, then. If Notarize.com captures only 25% of the business that would be $250 Million. At the rate of $25 per remote notarization, the result is a $250 million loss to the California economy. Now, suppose that Notarize.com 's enterprise also has Texas and Nevada notaries, who launched remote notarization July 1, 2018, working on California notarizations as well. The result is the pie being cut up even more. This could apply to other remote notarization vendors like NotaryCam.com , also located in the commonwealth of Virginia, causing even greater losses to the California economy.
Point 3 - California already has electronic notarization laws in place under the California Uniform Electronic Transactions Act. The use of the electronic notarization law under the CUET Act is serving the purpose for Californians and makes it affordable for California notaries and businesses to perform electronic notarizations using any technology the parties agree upon without government interference or regulations. AB 199 micromanages the electronic notarization process and is designed to benefit high-tech companies. There is no need for expensive, complex high-tech equipment as required by AB 199.
Point 5 - AB 199 will affect the ability of tens of thousands of notaries and small businesses to earn a living. Webcam notarizations bound by the technology required in this bill will eliminate the need for thousands of notaries in the State of California, notaries who are your constituents. AB 199 will allow only a few high-tech companies to perform remote notarizations from a few remote locations (similar to call centers). Due to new requirements under this bill, individual notaries will not be able to afford to develop a similar technology. The market will be monopolized by a handful of technology companies.
Point 6 - This bill calls for a maximum fee of $25 for performing an e-notary act (a highly profitable business for webcam notarization companies); yet, California notaries are limited to $15 fees for paper notarial acts. This bill will contribute to ageism and classism. Online notary services appeal to the young and affluent. If these online notary companies take over the notary business, millions of Californians will be disenfranchised.
Based on the facts above, you can see the imminent harm that will be caused to notarial acts performed in this state, to your California notary constituents, businesses and to the public at large. If you can't be persuaded against this harmful bill and the stringent technology requirements, please amend this bill and stipulate in this bill that:
- Notarial acts performed for signers physically located in the state of California must be conducted by a CA notary, in person, remotely or otherwise.
Thank you for your time. PLEASE vote "NO" on AB 199.