Some state DMVs made millions selling drivers' personal data for next to nothing

Several states' departments of motor vehicles have been selling drivers’ information – in some cases for as little as one cent, according to a scathing report.

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Virginia's DMV sold driver’s license information to 109 private investigation firms, while New Jersey’s sold to at least 16. Wisconsin's DMV is working with around 24 firms and Delaware has shared information with at least 12 private eye companies, according to VICE’s Motherboard, which obtained hundreds of pages of DMV documents pursuant to public records requests.

Wisconsin made more than $17 million in “driver abstract fees” in 2018 alone – compared to $1.1 million in 2015, the report states. Rhode Island’s DMV sold just over $380,000 worth of driver information from 2015 through this year.

Meanwhile, Florida ABC affiliate WFTS reported in July how the state’s DMV brought in more than $77 million by selling driver information in 2017’s fiscal year.

DMVs did not share license photographs or Social Security numbers, but sold other details, such as names, addresses, dates of birth, vehicle information and phone numbers, according to Motherboard.

In some cases, records were sold for as little as $0.01.


These types of transactions were made legal in the 1990s with the creation of the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which provides parameters for certain information-sharing, but also includes exemptions, which allow for this data to be sold to private investigators.