Report Says DMVs Are Selling Your Private Data

Information obtained through public records requests shows that Departments of Motor Vehicles around the country are frequently selling the personal information you provide to them, and they're reportedly making a lot of money.

Thousands of businesses, including private investigators who use the information to make a profit of their own by surveilling people, are paying tens of millions of dollars to DMVs, according to a published report by Motherboard.

The Wisconsin DMV has taken in over $17 million selling drivers' information, like names, addresss, and in some cases other personal information. The report notes that all DMV officials interviewed insisted that they don't sell photographs or social security numbers.

The selling of personal information by DMVs is regulated by the Driver's Privacy Protection Act of 1994, but is legal. The DPPA, which was created after a private detective was hired by a stalker to find the address of actress Rebecca Shaeffer just before he murdered her, also includes exemptions. Among those exemptions is the sale of information to private investigators.

The data being sold varies depending on the state, according to Motherboard, but in California the DMV notes that your personal information is not sold or shared personal data to advertisers or marketers. However, some information is available for public inspection online. That can include conviction records, driving violations, accident history, driver license suspensions, and any time your driving privileges have been taken away by the state.

Authorized law enforcement agencies may be able to access your DMV information as part of select investigations.

Insurance companies licensed to do business in California are allowed to request information on an accident involving someone they they insure.

Anyone who assures the DMV that they won't contact people by mail, email, telephone or other means can get your address for statistical research and reporting purposes.

In many case DMV officials are required by law to notify you when your private information provided to a third party.


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