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Lawmaker pledges to sponsor new privacy law after I-Team investigation

Florida DMV makes millions selling customer data
Posted: 6:24 PM, Jul 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-11 19:43:08-04
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TAMPA, Fla. — After the I-Team uncovered the Florida’s DMV is selling driver’s license and ID card holder’s private information, a state lawmaker is calling for changes in the law.

On Wednesday, ABC Action News I-Team Investigator Adam Walser uncovered how the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is making millions from selling people's information.

That could mean more junk mail, robocalls and salespeople showing up at your home.

“We need to change the law,” said Florida lawmaker Mike Beltran, who represents part of Hillsborough County in the House of Representatives.

He’s pledging to take action in the next legislative session to keep your data safe after seeing our investigation, which uncovered that an intellectually disabled woman was deluged with marketing materials after signing up for a Florida ID card.

“Other people don't need to know how you're living,” said Tonia Batson.

She recently moved to Florida from a group home in Idaho, so her sister Sonia Arvin could serve as her legal guardian.

Batson has no digital footprint, since she can’t read or write.

When asked who had her personal information in Florida, Arvin said, “The only one that had it was the DMV.”

Our investigation uncovered that FLHSMV has agreements to sell batch driver and ID card holder data to 30 private companies, for as little as a penny a record.

The companies use Florida’s Sunshine Law to obtain the data, since driver’s licenses and ID cards are considered public records.

Federal law and state DMV policies prevent that information from being used for marketing purposes, but vendors that have agreements with the state include data brokers and direct marketing firms.

“If a marketing firm is buying the information then you obviously know they're using the information for marketing, which is not the purpose of the Sunshine Law,” said Rep. Beltran.

Since 2017, the state has revoked agreements with three companies, who they discovered misused data.

The state is now investigating whether Tonia’s information ended up in the wrong hands.

“Next session, I'm definitely gonna be passing some sort of bill on privacy,” said Beltran. “The purpose of these laws is not to allow some commercial entity to send you marketing literature.”

If you have a story you’d like the I-Team to investigate, email us at adam@abcactionnews.com