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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

ACLU releases letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking for end to sales of driving records, Gov's office says not happening

27

July

The Times/Herald wrote on Tuesday about the ACLU's opposition to the state selling the personal information of Florida's 15.5 million licensed drivers to legal vendors.

The ACLU of Florida wrote Gov. Rick Scott a letter Friday asking him to end the sales. The group concedes that the practice is legal but deems it a long-running violation of privacy. They say Scott has the power to stop it.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made $73 million from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, by selling drivers license information to private companies.

The Times/Herald didn't hear back from the governor's press office until after the story was published. Spokesman Lane Wright said Scott would not end the practice because Florida is bound by the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, which creates exemptions for companies like LexisNexis and ShadowSoft. Companies that meet the exemptions are not allowed to use the information for marketing and advertising purposes.

"That's what the federal law is," Wright said. "That's what we're following."

Here's the letter:

July 22, 2011

Dear Governor Scott,

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles continues to sell the personal information of Florida drivers without their knowledge or permission.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida asks you to immediately direct Julie L. Jones, Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, to discontinue the mass sale of personal driver license information such as home address, age, gender and identifying driver’s license number.

All Floridians, including drivers, have an expectation of privacy. Selling personal data without notice or permission violates that expectation. Florida drivers do not give their personal, identifying information to the state so it can be sold and re-sold to private companies.

Although courts have deemed the sale of some driver’s license information permissible under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, no law requires the state to do what your administration is currently doing – putting our personal data on the open information market.

As Governor, you should protect our personal information, not sell it.

Since the corporations that buy this personal data from the state are permitted to re-sell the information they acquire, the personal information of millions of Florida drivers is made available to third party purchasers with no official oversight. Even if it was sold legally the first time, Floridians have little assurance that information about them will be used appropriately or legally by future buyers.

The policy and practice of the state of making personal data available to private buyers, which your administration is continuing, puts every Florida driver at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.

Perhaps most importantly, Floridians should be able to trust that their elected and appointed leaders will protect and honor their security and privacy. Your administration undermines that trust by continuing to allow the transfer of personal information such as home addresses and gender to those who are willing to pay for it.

We believe, and a great many Floridians agree, that no financial incentive can reasonably justify the invasion of privacy that results from the state selling such personal information.

Just because the state can do something, does not mean the state should do it.

We ask that you direct the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to end its contracts to sell the personal information of Florida drivers, not approve any future sales of this information and immediately put notifications and safeguards in place to ensure the information the state has already sold is safe and being used legally.

In short, we ask that you, Governor Scott, end the practice of effectively selling our privacy to private companies.

Thank you for your consideration,

Howard Simon

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 12:32pm]

    

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