Oklahoma Raises $65M Selling Data; Customers Include Insurance Cos.

April 6, 2010

The state of Oklahoma has collected at least $65 million in the past five years by selling personal information from motor vehicle records, according to newspaper reports.

Wellon Poe, the chief legal counsel for the state’s Department of Public Safety, says the biggest buyers of motor vehicle records are clearinghouses that sell the information to insurance companies and corporations.

According to a copyrighted story published by The Oklahoman and the Tulsa World, most of the records are bought online for $12.50 each, with $10 going to the state and a $2.50 processing fee going to the company that operates the state’s Web site.

In January, a federal lawsuit was filed in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas over use of information from a state motor vehicle database for marketing purposes. The suit claims the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicle database has been illegally used for marketing and it could affect anyone who has had an Arkansas driver’s license since 2000.

The lawsuit accuses the Arkansas Automobile Dealers Association of Little Rock, TRW Target Marketing of Little Rock and The Recall Center of Spanish Fork, Utah, of using the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles database for marketing purposes in violation of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.

The act outlines for what purposes the state motor vehicle databases can be purchased and specifically prohibits the use of the information for marketing.

The Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act authorizes a $2,500 penalty for each violation of the law.

In Oklahoma, the state earns money selling records that include birth dates, but some lawmakers and labor groups want to stop the release of government workers’ birth dates under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. A bill that would do that is pending before the Legislature.

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