A new investigative report by Vice shows the California Department of Motor Vehicles is selling drivers’ personal information, earning tens of millions of dollars.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is generating revenue of $50,000,000 a year through selling drivers’ personal information, according to a DMV document obtained by Motherboard.

DMVs across the country are selling data that drivers are required to provide to the organization in order to obtain a license. This information includes names, physical addresses, and car registration information. California’s sales come from a state which generally scrutinizes privacy to a higher degree than the rest of the country.

In a public record acts request, Motherboard asked the California DMV for the total dollar amounts paid by commercial requesters of data for the past six years. The responsive document shows the total revenue in financial year 2013/14 as $41,562,735, before steadily climbing to $52,048,236 in the financial year 2017/18.

The report did not reveal the identity of the requesters.

…[I]n an earlier investigation of DMVs across the U.S., Vice noted that the names of some companies buying the data cropped up repeatedly, such as data broker LexisNexis and consumer credit reporting agency Experian. That investigation also found that DMVs were selling information to private investigators.

It was unclear if California had recently sold any data to such entities.

When asked by Vice if selling the data was essential to the agency, DMV spokesman Marty Greenstein responded in a statement that it helps promote public safety objectives such as insurance availability, traffic studies, background checks, vehicle recalls and risk assessment.

“The DMV takes its obligation to protect personal information very seriously. Information is only released pursuant to legislative direction, and the DMV continues to review its release practices to ensure information is only released to authorized persons/entities and only for authorized purposes,” Greenstein’s statement read. “The DMV also audits requesters to ensure proper audit logs are maintained and that employees are trained in the protection of DMV information and anyone having access to this information sign a security document.”

However, thanks to a data breach, the state DMV may have exposed some drivers’ Social Security number information to seven government entities…for free!

The breach affects about 3,200 individuals over at least the last four years, the agency said in a statement.

The DMV insists it was not hacked and information was not shared with private individuals or entities.

CNN has not yet confirmed which agencies received the DMV data.

 

 
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