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Proposed sale of land titles registry a risky move

Proposed sale of land titles registry a risky move

By LIV Media


The LIV has called on the State Government to abandon its proposal to privatise the Victorian Land Titles Registry, saying the move would compromise the integrity of the registry and raise serious privacy and security issues for highly sensitive personal data held by the registry.

Land Use Victoria (LUV) is the Victorian Government's primary agency for land administration and land information. It has responsibility for land titles and records and is by necessity a monopoly provider.

The Victorian Government recently announced a proposal to sell LUV, which follows the recent $2.6 billion sale of the New South Wales Titles Office.

LIV President Belinda Wilson said the privatisation of LUV means governmental oversight controls may no longer be applicable, which may compromise the security, accuracy and privacy of highly sensitive data. It may also result in personal data being exploited for corrupt or fraudulent means.

"There is little incentive for a private owner to provide quality service at a reasonable cost when there is no competition. A buyer may try to increase profit from their purchase by hiking up user fees and cutting staff who have a great deal of experience and technical expertise. It is also possible they might explore ways to profit from the significant amounts of sensitive personal data they will now be in possession of," she said.

At present, the Victorian government is publicly accountable for the quality of the services provided by LUV and for the cost of using such services. A private operator of LUV, however, may prioritise its responsibilities owed to its shareholders that arise from its more commercially-oriented services, resulting in resources being pooled into unregulated, profit-driven services and LUV services being scaled back to the bare minimum, Ms Wilson said.

In the United Kingdom, a similar proposal was abandoned after it attracted criticism from a range of groups, including lawyers, media firms and the UK’s competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The CMA warned that selling the land registry would provide the new owner with a monopoly on commercially valuable data with no incentive to improve access to it.

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