– Florida Makes $63M Selling Drivers’ Info (Local 10, UPDATED: 12:41 am EDT July 20, 2011):
MIAMI — The state of Florida made $63 million last year selling what many think is personal information.
Local 10 has learned the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is selling people’s names, addresses, dates of birth, a list of the vehicles they drive, and it’s legal.
“Per federal mandate, there are companies that are entitled to this information. Insurance companies, for example, are entitled to this information. Employers are entitled to this information,” said Ann Howard of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
The state is currently selling this information to companies including Lexus Nexus and Shadow Soft. Those companies gather data on people and then sell that data. The companies must sign contracts with state claiming they won’t harass people.
“This information cannot be sold to a company that plans to solicit business, such as companies that want you to come to their ice cream store or companies that want you to buy their vehicles,” Howard said.
The state does not sell Social Security numbers or driver’s license numbers, and a Florida judge said what the state is doing is legal.
No one outside the driver’s license office in Lauderhill believed it.
“This is my own personal information, and I don’t think it should be out there,” said John Platt.
“You’re kidding me,” said Bebe Neice
“That’s crazy. I didn’t have a clue about it,” said Mischka Peralto.
The state said selling the information is also a matter of public safety. There are 15.5 million registered drivers in Florida, and the state charges companies 1 cent per electronic file. If a vehicle is recalled, the state of Florida has the latest and most current information on who owns that vehicle, so the manufacturer can notify the owners of the recall.
Only judges and law enforcement officers can request their personal information not be sold.
“If a company violates the Federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, they do face federal charges and federal fines,” Howard said.