Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, has sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking that the state end the practice of selling driver's license information, saying that the sales violate Floridians' expectations of privacy.
The sales of the information -- which includes a license holder's home address, age, gender, and the license number -- reportedly brought in $73 million for the state between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011.
The catch here is that the sales are completely legal.
Typically, the buyers of the information are seeking to do checks of someone's driving record, but the information is also sold to online information databases that store public records.
It's illegal to sell the personal information for marketing purposes, although the general fear is that once the original sale is made by the state for a legitimate purpose, it could then be sold or given to someone who doesn't plan on using it for said legitimate purpose.
Courts have decided that under the Driver Privacy Protection Act, what Florida is doing by selling the license data is legal.
In Simon's request, however, he contends that both the privacy and security of Florida citizens are at risk under this practice.
"All Floridians, including drivers, have an expectation of privacy," Simon writes. "Selling personal data without notice or permission violates that expectation. Florida drivers do not give their personal, identifying information to the state so it can be sold and re-sold to private companies."
Chances are, that letter has already found its way into the garbage can of the governor's office. The sales bring in a solid amount of revenue to the state, and the state wouldn't be directly responsible for misuse of the information, even though it's the source.
On the other hand, Simon says there's no law that requires the state to sell the information -- which the governor's office doesn't exactly agree with.
Scott's spokesman, Lane Wright, told the Miami Herald that the state is actually bound by the Driver Privacy Protection Act to create the exemption for the online database companies.
But just like having sex with animals before the October 1 deadline, Simon says, "Just because the state can do something, does not mean the state should do it."
Simon also asks that the state put notifications and safeguards in place to protect the information that's already been released from being used illegally, although it's probably too late for that anyway.
Regardless, Simon says Scott and his administration aren't making any friends by selling the information.
"Perhaps most importantly, Floridians should be able to trust that their elected and appointed leaders will protect and honor their security and privacy," he says. "Your administration undermines that trust by continuing to allow the transfer of person information such as home addresses and gender to those who are willing to pay for it."
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