Texas DMV Sells Personal Information To Hundreds Of Companies; Drivers Not Allowed To Opt-Out

from the thanks-for-providing-this-valuable-info-via-our-mandatory-vehicle-registration-p dept

Fun, dubious, privacy-violating stuff happening out in Texas where the Dept. of Motor Vehicles has made a tidy sum selling the information it collects (including names, addresses and makes/models owned) to a variety of private companies.

The Texas DMV claims its "top priority" is protecting drivers' information, but that hardly seems to be the case when it's pulling in $2.1 million a year selling it off. There are protections in place, but they are flimsy at best.
"The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is the custodian of over 22 million currently registered vehicles in the state of Texas," Randy Elliston, Director of the Texas DMV, explained. "All of those records that are in our database, however, are protected under the Driver Privacy Protection Act."

Randy Elliston says the Driver Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) limits who can buy your information and what they can do with it.
It would be interesting to see what these "limits" are. The spreadsheet obtained by CBS 11 of Dallas, TX shows that 2,448 different entities purchased this information from the DMV last year. The purchasers listed range from towing companies to debt collectors to university parking lot patrols. Elliston states that the purchasing companies are not allowed to use the information for direct contact or advertising purposes.

A brief look at the spreadsheet seems to indicate the opposite: auto dealers make up the largest percentage of purchasers. Moreover, Elliston seems to have his facts wrong on the Driver Privacy Protection Act, at least as it pertains to Texas drivers.
The Driver Privacy Protection Act is a federal law. And the fine print actually says businesses can use your information for marketing or solicitations if the state has obtained your consent. That means, some drivers can opt in or out of these databases.

Problem is – Texas didn't adopt that portion of the law. So, drivers in the Lone Star State are stuck.
This has opened up driver data to nearly anyone who wants it. The spreadsheet shows insurance companies, debt collection agencies, title loan specialists, towing services and auctioneers all have access to these records. The response from Elliston? If you don't like it, complain about it.
Elliston says if you feel like your information is being abused you can report the company. "It has occurred in the past and when it has we've pulled the company's ability to use that data," Elliston noted.
Well, that is one way to deal with an influx of unsolicited mail after registering your vehicle to comply with state law. Another, better, way to deal with it would be to adopt the opt-in/out language that's currently missing. Registering a vehicle isn't optional, but having your name, address and vehicle info turned over to whoever requests it certainly should be.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 1:53pm

    This is why I like to play RTS games so I can have the illusion of control for a few hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:08pm

    In Other Words...

    ...there are 2,448 targets that are likely more hackable than the DMV in order to get personal info on 22 million people. Rich, nourishing, verified personal info.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    This explains why...

    ...after I moved to Texas, I had multiple offers to purchase an extended warranty on my car before I even received my new title.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:25pm

    Got a problem with it? Then stop driving. After all "driving is a privilege not a right." Isn't that right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Aurock, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    Isn't that backwards?

    The article seems to say that because Texas hasn't implemented an opt-out system, everyone's data is subject to be sold for solicitation & marketing purposes. Reading the law linked to from the article, it seems to say just the opposite.

    As I understand it, the federal law says the data can be sold for surveys & solicitation only if the state has given drivers the opportunity to opt out. If the state hasn't implemented such an opt-out system, then they can't sell the information to companies who will use it for such purposes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    ECA (profile), Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

    sO...

    WE pay THEM...
    THEN pay ant insurance agent, because its illegal to dive without..
    THEN they SELL the data?? and make MORE money??

    To:
    Pay the cops?
    To find those running around without a drivers license?
    To find those without Insurance??
    TO TAKE your car away, because you dont have either??

    A drivers license does not tell, that you KNOW how to drive..
    Insurance is for the person that does NOT want to pay out of pocket...for THEIR OWN mistakes..

    Im sorry, IMHO, driving should be a spectator sport..
    ENOUGH ID, to know WHO hit you, track them down and send the law AFTER THE FACT..
    PUT UPC Scan codes across the bumpers. And let them go at it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    They can do this? I'd have figured they'd be in trouble since you absolutlely have to register at the DMV even if you don't drive a car.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    jackn, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:37pm

    Elliston says if you feel like your information is being abused you can report the company

    But the DMV isn't a company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:39pm

    Registering

    "Registering a vehicle isn't optional, but having your name, address and vehicle info turned over to whoever requests it certainly should be."

    Yup. So why did you feel the other way with the gun info?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:41pm

    You think that is bad?

    Look at the Ratheon RIOT(Rapid Information Overlay Technology)

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/glimpse-raytheons-people-tracking-softw are

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

    The federal DPPA requires opt-out for certain cases (I read the law at the link) and not for others. The list of cases when information can be disclosed include:
    (1) law enforcement
    (2) a list of miscellaneous exceptions including recalls and "market research"
    (3) by any business to verify contact information
    (4) courts (for any reason, including serving papers)
    (5) research (as long as personal information is not published and individuals not contacted)
    (6) insurers (for most anything they'd care about)
    (7) providing notice to owners of towed/impounded vehicles
    (8) private investigators
    (9) employers verifying CDLs (commercial drivers licenses)
    (10) operation of private toll transportation facilities (???)
    (11) "other use" (requires opt-out)
    (12) surveys, marketing, and solicitation (requires opt-out--but note market research can include surveys)
    (13) any requester who can demonstrate they have written consent of the individual
    (14) "For any other use specifically authorized under the law of the State that holds the record, if such use is related to the operation of a motor vehicle or public safety."

    Seems like many businesses could loophole around the opt-out with point 3 if they say they're updating or verifying your contact information (because you intentionally gave them bad information). Insurers (extended warranties probably fall into this category), tow service operators, and dealers (for recalls or "market research" in the sense of "researching who to market to" maybe?) don't care about opt-out.

    Given the list of exceptions, it seems DPPA is a waste of paper.

    Oh, and on top of all that, anyone who gets the information can resell it--except cases 11 and 12.

    If Texas didn't include an opt-out option, I think there may be a case for someone claiming federal law trumps state law--that is, the handful of people who aren't SOL from the 12 other exceptions that don't require opt-out, of which someone would have to file a lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    "They can do this? I'd have figured they'd be in trouble since you absolutlely have to register at the DMV even if you don't drive a car."

    They can do whatever they like, so long as it doesn't violate federal law.

    Wait, what? Why are you registering at the DMV if you don't drive a car?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Not sure if it's every state, but at least many of the ones I've lived in have citizens get state-issued non-driver ID cards from the DMV since the DMV is already set up to issue ID cards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 4:37pm

    Wrong on both sides of the equation

    Even ignoring privacy issues, the idea of government entities selling information collected or derived from taxes is doubly offensive. "We the people" have already paid for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 4:39pm

    The problems the Amish don't have...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 4:39pm

    I'd like to see the auto opt-out list of names. Probably a who's who of texas good 'ol boys club

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re:

    You have to have state ID regardless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 5:01pm

    Re:

    #AmishWorldPerks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Theoden, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 5:31pm

    More Irony...

    In Texas it is not the DMV - it is DPS that handles all automobile licensing, registration and driver's licenses.

    That is the Department of Public Safety. Not just an oxymoron, a Texymoron!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 9:00pm

    So if anyone in Texas lives close enough to the state border, I'm sure LA, AR, OK, or NM would like that registration fee better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2013 @ 11:37pm

    Privacy died a long time ago.

    For better or for worse we live in a time where people know a lot about us and that knowledge will just spread.

    I believe we are in a transitory phase where we are trying to figure out what private details matter and what don't and it will be a long road.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 2:30am

    Well, that is one way to deal with an influx of unsolicited mail after registering your vehicle to comply with state law.

    All Texans should print a copy of every advertising e-mail and get all their regular mail spams and forward back to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Should yield interesting results with piles of paper and huge waste disposal fees ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Soon to be implemented via a chip under the skin and a barcode on the forehead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 5:34am

    Sounds like a really juicy lawsuit. Does the government have the right to sell your personal information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: Registering

    U mad bro?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 6:18am

    Re:

    "All Texans should print a copy of every advertising e-mail and get all their regular mail spams and forward back to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles. Should yield interesting results with piles of paper and huge waste disposal fees ;)"

    Muahaha. Awesome idea. Consider this one Texan who plans on doing that. As soon as I receive any that is. I'm surprisingly resilient when it comes to maintaining my anonymity, to the point that even the state agencies give up when it comes to trying to track me down (except for law enforcement obviously... which I never have any run-ins with luckily enough).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 6:55am

    Re: Isn't that backwards?

    That's what seems to be the problem. They are selling the data without the opt-out system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    This seems different than the response for the gun owners list in NY

    I'd really like to know why publishing this data is bad, but the gun owner's database list being published wasn't.

    Both lists were populated with no opt-out/in option. You were required by law to provide that data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    More proof, CISPA is just a golden egg posing as an uneccessary law, posing as an executive order.

    People bank on information these days. It's why companies nearly give away tablets at cost, and its why I keep getting "manual updates" on my Nexus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    Indeed! Just take it or leave it. People should never question the way things are. If they don't like it, then they should just shut up and under no circumstances should they try and make things better. Can you imagine what would happen if they succeeded? Madness, I tell you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, you don't have to, but it does make your life easier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    no, it ain't right...
    (and i'm guessing you know that and were being slightly sarcastic...)

    the way our society is built, UNLESS you live in a city center, you HAVE TO have a vehicle to EFFICIENTLY get around, much less keep a job, haul stuff, run errands, etc...

    we DO NOT -in general- build our cities and 'burbs' to suit pedestrians, bikes, and public transport in general; it is ALL ABOUT the cars and building EVERYTHING to suit THEM...

    just like whichever country the other day (netherlands?) saying that inertnet access is basically a human right (which i agree with), so is driving...

    unless/until we have infrastructure DESIGNED to promote pedestrians, public transport, etc, it is unfair to call driving a 'privilege'...

    okay, so #2533766 in an infinite series of unfair/unjust situations in 'our' (sic) society...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 14th, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    Idenetity Cards are required in CA and Other States

    Wether you drive a car or not California, and other states issue Identity cards similar to Driver's Licenses. So people can be identified by Police for offenses other than vehicle offenses. Also they serve as a valid Identity cards for Checks at a store, at least in California

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 3:48pm

    Re: In Other Words...

    i want this list,if anyone finds it email me or send to @youranonnews on twitter

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Tail Gunner, Feb 23rd, 2013 @ 1:16am

    At some point...

    If the information is knowingly going to be exploited, then the information entered will start to be lies, or not registered at all.

    This is insidious corruption.
    Purposely enabled by oath breaking officials.

    You can play word games with what I accuse here, but it won't make me hate these fascist treasonous scumbag oath breakers, or whatever you want to call them, any less.

    The OATH is indeed the crux of what is causing all this.

    Why just in the past couple days I run across these, and I hear about this stuff happening ALL the time.

    Cynthia McKinney US lawmakers forced to sign support of Israel - youtube.com/watch?v=MeVBa4lSscw

    Sen Lindsey Graham Hammers Chuck Hagel over Jewish Lobby comments - youtube.com/watch?v=l1xSY-g0Ghk

    Jewish Lobby Crushes Chuck Hagel - youtube.com/watch?v=IvIE-ZE6DB0

    THE PLEDGE ( TO ISRAEL ) - youtube.com/watch?v=-syB3JQkhFQ

    Somewhere out there I found a Jewish ritual to un-bind all other oaths they take.

    Before falsely labeling me the anti-Semitic (for your grassroots propaganda purposes), know that one of my grandmother's was Jewish. IF anything this insanity is backwards, (poor ol Jews aren't being persecuted, they're doing the KILLING NOW) so before flaming me please explain in detail just exactly where did the vulgar slang word "goy" came from?

    Also explain in detail, why our officials who swear an oath to the US Constitution, are swearing oaths to Israel, and in fact BREAKING their oath to the US Constitution?

    Why should we wait.
    It has begun.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2013 @ 8:13pm

    Seems that 90% of the companies listed are for legit purposes such as car dealers tow companies and finance companies, or for enforcement of laws such as parking enforcement. Those that are strictly advertising should not be here though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Nov 28th, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Now I know how my stalker got my address and beat me half to death.

    And also why the police told me to man up and didn't charge my stalker with anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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