Democrat: sale of driver data a bigger problem than sharing with feds by Wes Duplantier

Posted April 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

A Democratic lawmaker said Thursday, April 4, that drivers’ information is being sold to private companies, and that problem is bigger than controversies about information being shared with the federal government.

Rep. Chris Kelly told the House Committee on Downsizing State Government Thursday that state law allows the Missouri Department of Revenue to sell information about drivers in large batches — everything from their eye color to their accident history. Kelly, D-Columbia, is sponsoring legislation that would restrict access to single records in an attempt to cut down on purchasing by firms that use the driver information for marketing purposes.

But information companies, like Carfax, say they use the license data for good purposes. Carfax lobbyist Chris Neal told the committee that his company needs access to that driver information to figure out if a car has been involved in an accident in the past.

This isn’t the only controversy in the Capitol involving the Department of Revenue. Republicans have said the department is illegally sending information on gun owners to the federal government. Kelly told the committee that he doesn’t think that is happening.

“Some people are perpetuating a fantasy that the Department of Revenue is giving to the federal government drivers license information and (concealed carry of a weapon permit) information,” Kelly said. “That is documentably false, but it is politically convenient.”

A Department of Revenue official told committee members that some 4,700 people and entities have accounts to pay for driver information from the department.