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California DMV Sells Personal Information

Written by: Chase Langhorne, Esq.

A recent public records request to the California DMV shows that the California DMV is selling personal information drivers provide to receive a driver’s license to private companies to the tune of roughly $50 million per year. The reasoning provided by a representative of the California DMV is that “[i]nformation is only released pursuant to legislative direction.”

The protection of individuals’ personal information is at the forefront of public news as data breaches and improper disclosure of personal information is at an all-time high. States are scrambling to pass laws to protect personal data of their residents. Specifically, in California, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) takes effect on January 1, 2020. The CCPA governs the rights of California residents to know how their personal information is handled and in certain cases gives them the right to request a company delete their personal information. Further, the CCPA requires businesses, that meet certain requirements, post on their website the types of personal information the business collects, how the personal information is used, and who the personal information is shared with. However, the CCPA only applies to private businesses. Therefore, the California DMV is not required to post the same information on its website, and California residents cannot make the same requests to determine how their personal information is being used. The California DMV does provide some information regarding its use of personal information, but it is not as descriptive as what is required of businesses subject to CCPA.

California is not the only DMV selling its citizens’ personal information. The Vermont DMV has been selling personal information since 2004. The Vermont DMV lists similar information on its website regarding how it uses personal information of its citizens.

This presents a frustrating decision for California residents who must determine whether they want to protect their personal information, or whether they want to legally be able to drive to work or pickup their children from school.