Arizona MVD doesn’t sell records to third parties




    Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division told the Arizona Mirror it does not sell data it stores to third parties including private investigators, although PIs and companies can make requests for some data – and more than 762,000 people made such requests in the past year. 

    As first reported by Motherboard, the departments of motor vehicles in several states have been selling driver data in bulk to private investigators, allowing those states to rake in millions of dollars. 

    In Arizona, a little more than 762,000 requests for driver license records were made to the motor vehicle division from Sept. 10, 2018, to Sept. 10, 2019, according to Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Doug Nick. The requests brought in more than $2.3 million for the agency. 

    The bulk of those requests are from people requesting their own records, Nick said, though the agency was unable to provide the Mirror with data on how many were in that category. ADOT also could not say how many requests were from PIs, as the agency doesn’t store that information in its database, even though it requires licensed investigators to provide their license number.

    Nick said ADOT does not actively sell data belonging to Arizona residents to third parties, but does make it available to request per state and federal law. 

    The information ADOT is allowed to release is regulated by the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which is commonly referred to as the DPPA. 

    The law was passed in 1994, in the midst of anti-abortion advocates using public driver license databases to track down and harass doctors, nurses and other employees who worked for practices that performed abortions. 

    The law outlines several types of “permissible use” for requesting data from the MVD, which can include information such as a person’s full name, address, driver’s license photo, social security number, license number and some medical information. 

    The form one must fill out to get the information also shows which types of people can get this type of data: government agencies, attorneys working a case, insurers, employers, researchers, tow companies and private investigators. 

    Fees for the records range between $3 to $5. 

    There are some safeguards in place to ensure that not just anyone can get the information. 

    For example, in order to obtain the records, requestors must have either the person’s full name and driver’s license number or their VIN, license plate and full name. Additionally, requestors have to prove they qualify to receive the records under of of the “permissible uses” allowed by state and federal law.

    However, obtaining someone’s full name once you have a VIN number is a pretty easy task considering the free online services that are now available to consumers. 

    Private investigators in the state must have two permissible uses, unless they are working for an attorney on a civil or criminal case. 

    In Arizona, private investigators are regulated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and must have “a minimum of three years of full-time investigative experience or the equivalent of three years of full-time investigative experience that consists of actual work performed as an investigator for a private concern, for the federal government or for a state, county or municipal government.”

    Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
    Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Have you ever received a letter that says your car warranty has expired, or nowadays, a phone call. Wondered how those companies knew what car you drove-where you lived? Ask your DMV!
      Caveat (underlying basis for my opinion): I have been researching all DMVs selling motor vehicle records since 2004, obtaining responses from the DMVs as to the identity of persons/companies buying motor vehicle records (“MVRs”) in bulk, referencing a person or entity that obtains the entire database of MVRs, then periodic updates. As an attorney that handles Federal Privacy Class Actions, I’m searching for information related to the unauthorized access to DMV data, a violation of the Driver Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”). See: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2721
      In regard to this story, I note the following:
      1. “Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division told the Arizona Mirror it does not sell data it stores to third parties including private investigators, although PIs and companies can make requests for some data – ….

      I doubt this information. My research shows the Arizona DMV sells motor vehicle records (“MVRs”) in bulk. Most states sell DMV data in bulk to companies like R.L. Polk, Experian, Axciom, and many states governmental entities. Does this still happen in Arizona: [ https://tucson.com/business/your-car-warranty-is-about-to-expire-so-telemarketers-say/article_a6975a75-fc01-5cf5-9fdd-fad55aabeeda.html%5D

      BTW: DPPA permits a $2500 violation for the unauthorized access/use of your DMV data for direct marketing. Each letter-every person/company associated in the illegal practice of obtaining and using your dmv data is liable.

      2. “As first reported by Motherboard,…” The Motherboard article cited showed a naive understanding of the Driver Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), focusing on private investigators who have a legal right to obtain the data. The story should have been people/companies buying the data in bulk, then using it for direct marketing, IE., supplying telemarketing companies with your state’s ENTIRE DATABASE of MVRs for direct marketing. (Some) Auto dealerships buy this DMV data then send out marketing letters, IE., buy-back your vehicle letters wherein your vehicle data is cited within the letter.

      3. SOME to Private Investigators, but not ALL”. “Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division …… does not sell data …to private investigators, although PIs requests … some data…” . The use of “some”, that should have tipped you off that data is actually sold to third parties.

      4. “The law outlines several types of “permissible use” for requesting data from the MVD, which can include information such as a person’s full name, address, driver’s license photo, social security number, license number and some medical information.” This is a broad statement, I would disagree with it as it relates to SS#, medical, and the pix.

      BTW: In regard to the picture noted in the story, it’s interesting that there is a facial recognition box around the face of the driver. You might want to research -IdentoGo-(Idemia): http://marketing-appserver-prod-alb-155151427.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com/locations/arizona. Do you know how the driver license is created, who creates it; moreover, where your DMV data is stored?

      5. “Nick said ADOT does not actively sell data belonging to Arizona residents to third parties, but does make it available to request per state and federal law.” [This is DMV “code” talk for “we do sell MVRs in bulk, pursuant to the DPPA if you have a permissible use in bulk” ].

      Hope this has helped you understand this area a little better. Do an open records request to the DMV asking if it permits Bulk Requests!

      Thanks,
      Joe Malley

      Law Office of Joseph H. Malley P.C.
      1045 North Zang Boulevard
      Dallas, Texas 75208
      Ph: (214) 943-6100
      Fax: (214) 943-6170
      [email protected]
      LinkedIn: Joseph H. Malley

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