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Sixth Circuit Dismisses Class Action Over Personal Information Release

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a proposed class action lawsuit over the distribution of personal information from a state’s motor vehicle records. The Kentucky plaintiffs claimed that Ascom Transport System Inc. violated the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and their common law right to privacy when the company obtained in bulk and then used, resold and disclosed their personal information contained in the state’s motor vehicle records without a “permissible purpose” under the act. The district court ruled in December 2010 that the bulk purchase of such motor vehicle records without a “specific need for every record” does not violate the DPPA, and ultimately granted Ascom’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint. When the Kentucky plaintiffs appealed, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The Sixth Circuit held that obtaining personal information solely for the purpose of reselling such information is allowed under the DPPA — so long as the information is used for purposes permitted. In addition, the plaintiffs’ claim of common law right to privacy failed as a matter of law.

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