Just writing to update everyone on what's going on with AB 199, the CA Online Notary Act. I attended the roundtable discussion at the capitol this afternoon. Representatives from the authors office, the SoS, the DOJ, both the Asm and Senate Judicial Committees, the ACLU, Notarize, CLTA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, online privacy experts, a few other tech companies, lobbyists and myself were present. Discussions ranged from the benefits of RON to the multitude of serious issues with RON.
-Major concerns surround proving the signers identity by way of knowledge based authentication after the Equifax and others hacks. Many companies are now moving beyond KBA's but when asked, even the online identity experts plainly said there is nothing equivalent in the virtual world to the ink thumbprint in the paper journal. So, the idea of excluding certain documents that require a thumbprint from RON was proposed. This is a huge win for the notary and the consumer as it will limit the notarizations being done remotely on the most sensitive documents.
-Another major concern is the preservation of evidence (journal data) and the security of the data stored and the accessibility of that data. A breakthrough was made on this, it was proposed that the online platforms should and will be held liable if the data is lost, stolen, manipulated or hacked. This is a change of course from all other RON bills passed to date and is a huge win for notaries because currently in RON states the notary is held to account no matter what happens.
-The pervious point led into privacy and what platforms and third parties can and cannot do with the data collected. The ACLU took a very hard position that any data collected in a notarial transaction could not be used for anything other than it's intended purpose. Meaning, any data collected could never be used for marketing purposes, and could never be mined, shared or sold. This is a win for the notaries and consumers.
-We then discussed whether or not an online notary platform be licensed, bonded and insured. I pointed out that if the online platforms are going to take on the identity proofing an vetting process, which they are, the notary's role will be reduced to determining whether or not the signer is lucid. So, essentially what you have is a self driving car and in the state of California at least, self driving cars must be licensed bonded and insured. Again, a win for the notary.
-The CLTA made a great suggestion that notarizations occurring for signers located in CA should be restricted to CA notaries so that the DOJ, SOS and other agencies have jurisdiction and therefore prevent us from losing control of notarization in the state of CA by way of notary call centers on the east coast. This is another huge win for notaries and the consumer.
-Last, I discussed the issue of preserving consumer choice. For example, when the ATM machine became main stream, banks shed all of their tellers in a matter of a few short years. And because Lenders, title companies, etc don't give the consumer a choice now despite the law stating that it's the consumer's choice of notary, I suggested that the bill make sure the consumer doesn't lose a choice or access to a traditional notary. Big win for notaries.
Now we wait for drafts of amendments to be released. There will then be a public comment period. We'll see what they put together, in the meantime, I have not changed my position. We need to continue to make our voices heard, continue to get informed and continue to reach out to one another. I shall keep you posted.