The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which a driver’s license agency sold information about drivers such as home address, name and age. Several states including Florida have been selling DMV records, either under the cloak of freedom of information or to help support the state’s falling revenues.
While on the surface this case does not deal directly with background screening practices it may have implications worth keeping an eye on. This case deals with three South Carolinians who objected to solicitations from lawyers to join a lawsuit against car dealers. At issue is whether lawyers may use information gleaned from South Carolina driver records, which they obtained by filing open records requests. A federal law aimed at protecting driver records has an exception for lawsuits and the court will determine whether the lawyers’ actions qualify.
Similarly, in another case in Florida, Kehoe v. Fidelity Bank, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court and held that individuals suing to recover for violations under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act do not need to demonstrate actual harm in order to recover monetary damages. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, has submitted an amicus brief in the case arguing that individuals are entitled to damages under the law when businesses or data brokers intentionally access motor vehicle information. For more information, see EPIC’s Kehoe v. Fidelity Page. (Sept. 1, 2004)
So far, Florida has sold more than 3 million names and addresses to marketing companies and data-mining companies such as LexisNexis, which often produce reports about you without your knowledge or ability to contest the accuracy of the information and is used for background check by Insurance companies when handling claims, and by employers who are considering hiring you.