A U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that companies that resell personal information from motor vehicle records are subject to a “duty of reasonable care before disclosing such information pursuant to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA).” The court ruled in Gordon v. Softeach Int’l that “Given the nature of information available through motor vehicle records-e.g., Social Security number, medical or disability information and home address-the DPPA’s purpose would be severely undermined if resellers’ disclosures were not subject to a duty of reasonable inquiry.” The DPPA generally prohibits private citizens and entities from obtaining, disclosing, and reselling personal information from motor vehicle records. Section 2721(b), however, delineates fourteen permissible uses of such information, such as use by a “licensed private investigative agency” or specific uses by an insurer. In a separate opinion, Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs concurred in part and dissented in part. He said that the majority, by requiring resellers to confirm the identities of customers and perform additional investigations, imposes “a negligence standard, and it is judicial invention that alters the nature of the industry’s service and its economics, and thereby upsets the balance of the Act.” He found it “reasonable for Congress to draw the line at a knowing violation…”

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