November 24, 2016
The state of Florida has been selling private information about its drivers in bulk for years, despite records that show state officials have been aware the practice is fraught with risks and could run afoul of federal law, a FOX 13 investigation has found.
The state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles – Florida’s DMV – has publicly denied they may be exposing the private details of more than 15 million drivers to third parties who had no legitimate right to the information.
Yet, according to annual reports the DMV has submitted to Gov. Rick Scott’s office for each of the past four years, the state admits they lack the staff, system and technology needed to track the “appropriateness” of how commercial buyers are using private information about Floridians.
DMV also lacks the staff needed to ensure the data exchanges aren’t violating the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act, according to the report. In the past two years alone, the DMV generated more than $150 million in revenue by selling the federally-protected information.
Documents obtained through Florida’s sunshine laws also show the state’s contracts with commercial buyers contain lax security provisions, and do not specifically require the third parties to encrypt the private driver data.
The new findings come days after Florida Sen. Bill Nelson asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the DMV’s sales practices, pointing to evidence found in FOX 13’s ongoing investigations into the DMV, which have raised red flags about the states sales practices.
“You definitely don’t want the bad guys to know where you live, where you bank, where your children go to school,” Nelson said at a Friday news conference.
Scott’s office referred questions to the DMV, as did a spokesperson for Attorney General Pam Bondi. DMV executive director Terry Rhodes and her staffers have ignored FOX 13’s questions about the risks to Floridians’ private information ever since the announcement of the DOJ investigation. [READ MORE]