A group of legislators contacted the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Wednesday asking for an explanation regarding its reported selling of drivers’ data, said VICE. This group was led by Congress member Anna Eshoo.
The inquiry came after a Motherboard exposed the activity in November 2019, revealing that the DMV was making $50 million per year by selling individual’s information.
In a letter written by Eshoo and the rest, the group probes the agency about the type of information it sold to whom, as well as rules connected to the sale. It especially wanted to know the kinds of organizations that DMV transacted with.
The Motherboard report that DMVs across the country have been selling info to private investigators. At some point, some of these investigators used such private data to spy on allegedly unfaithful spouses.
The same article from Motherboard revealed that sold data include names, addresses, and car registration. Its clients include insurers, vehicle manufacturers, and prospective employers.
Aside from this info, the letter expressed concern about the “disclosure of data which could enable invasive biometric policing” and that it could be a “symptom of a deeper privacy malady.”
The letter also claimed that individuals whose information is being sold are not informed of such practices. They are also not given the option to refuse the use of their info in such ways.
In an email response to the inquiry, the California DMV said, “The DMV does not sell driver information for marketing purposes or to generate revenue outside of the cost of administering its requester program.”
It also clarified that it “only provides a certain driver and vehicle-related information as statutorily required.” The agency assured the lawmakers that it is committed to its responsibility of protecting personal information and that it does so in compliance with state laws.
The California agency remarked that it reviews such practices to guarantee that the sale of data is between the DMV and an authorized entity only for authorized purposes.
Aside from Eshoo, the signatories include Congress members Ted Lieu, Barbara Lee, Mike Thompson, Grace Napolitano, Tony Cardenas, Judy Chu, Jerry McNerney, and J. Luis Correa. Members of the California Assembly Kevin Mullin and Mark Stone also signed the letter.
The Motherboard report also gained attention from Bernie Sanders who said that DMVs should be profiting from drivers’ private data.