The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is selling personal driver’s license data to third parties such as private investigators and making a tidy profit from the practice, an investigation conducted by Motherboard has discovered.
Public records have shown that DMV branches across the country are bringing in tens of millions per year by selling personal data, with most of the public blissfully unaware that their privacy is being systemically violated by these rapacious bureaucrats with little if any regard for the 4th Amendment.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, actually makes this invasive practice legal, and the DMV has taken full advantage of their powers. They have sold information such as names, addresses, birthdates, email handles, vehicle types, and other personal data.
The DMV often sells the personal information to private investigators so they can spy on spouses to gather dirt during messy divorce proceedings. Data has been sold individually and in bulk, in certain cases for as little as one penny per individual, as the nightmare of Big Brother is yet again proven to be a reality in the digital age.
An incredible 109 different private investigator agencies have bought DMV data from the state of Virginia, in addition to lawyers, employers, credit reporting firms, and mega-banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. New Jersey, Delaware and Wisconsin are three other states that are engaging in similar practices.
“Congress should take a close look at the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, and, if necessary, close loopholes that are being abused to spy on Americans,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to Motherboard.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) believes that this widespread practice could be putting people at risk, by fueling disputes that may put the vulnerable into unnecessary danger.
“The selling of personally identifying information to third parties is broadly a privacy issue for all and specifically a safety issue for survivors of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking,” Erica Olsen of the NNEDV said to Motherboard. “For survivors, their safety may depend on their ability to keep this type of information private.”
But it is not likely that states will voluntarily end this invasive practice because it has grown to be such a moneymaker in recent years. Florida made $77 million from the practice in 2017, South Carolina made $42 million in 2015, and Wisconsin made $17 million in 2018.
As was indicated by the leaks of iconic whistle-blower Edward Snowden showing the NSA’s unconstitutional spying capability, government bureaucrats can never be trusted with a treasure trove of personal data. Until government power is reduced by a significant margin, heinous abuses like these will likely continue to persist.