Things That Matter

New Documents Show The California’s DMV Is Making A Profit From Selling Drivers’ Information

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is making a $50 million profit off selling California drivers’ personal information to private companies, according to a document obtained by VICE. After VICE‘s recent investigation revealed that DMVs were profiting off the sale of personal data, the outlet submitted a public record acts request to understand how the state of California has profited from the sale of drivers’ personal information. Since 2013, the California DMV has progressively made more and more money, averaging out at around $50 million by fiscal year 2017/18. 

The DMV has told VICE that the sale of the data is in the interest of public safety. 

The DMV has been allowed to sell drivers’ information since 1994.

CREDIT: @FORMATIONFORCE / TWITTER

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) was passed in 1994, meant to protect driver’s privacy after a stalker obtained the address of actress Rebecca Schaeffer from the DMV and later killed her. While the law did restrict access to drivers’ information at the time, the loopholes that were written over two decades ago have allowed for a $50 million revenue for California alone. While we don’t know the exact names of the businesses that California’s DMV sold information to, we can presume its similar to other states, which primarily sell to insurance companies and private investigators. VICE’s investigation signals that consumer credit report company Experian and research company LexisNexis are major clients of DMVs across the country. LexisNexis, for example, advertises itself as a “provider of legal, government, business and high-tech information sources.”

Marty Greenstein, a public information officer of the California DMV, told VICE that, “The DMV takes its obligation to protect personal information very seriously. Information is only released pursuant to legislative direction, and the DMV continues to review its release practices to ensure information is only released to authorized persons/entities and only for authorized purposes. The DMV also audits requesters to ensure proper audit logs are maintained and that employees are trained in the protection of DMV information and anyone having access to this information sign a security document.”

Senators and privacy experts think the laws should change.

CREDIT: @_4VTO_ / TWITTER

“The DMV should not use its trove of personal information as a tool to make money. While the internet has been an enormous source for good, all that convenience and connection has come with a price: our privacy has been invaded in an unprecedented way, in a manner that would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago,” Sen. Bernie Sanders told VICE.

Some people are wondering how the DMV is making only $50 million a year off of our data.

CREDIT: @KATZZ77 / TWITTER

“My hot take on the DMV selling their data-” tweeted Sriram Krishnan (@sriramk), “I would be ok with them selling more data and making more $$ if it meant better services every time I make an appointment or deal with their website.” Others are tweeting at California’s Governor Newsom, imploring that the use of the tax-funded DMV as a data mine ceases. “Dear @GavinNewsom This is a significant #privacy issue. Please remind DMV that our info is not for sale, and CAN-SPAM laws (nevermind the California PII laws) say we should be able to opt-out of the use of our data,” tweeted Michael Skaff (@mskaff).

The way the DMV uses our data can compromise the safety of undocumented people, and it’s already happening in Nebraska.

CREDIT: @VAMP_KRIS2102 / TWITTER

NPR obtained a copy of the agreement that Nebraska’s DMV signed with the U.S. Census Bureau, making it the first state to cooperate with Trump’s mission to gain citizenship data about every person living in the United States. Trump may have gotten his wish to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census had it not been for a Supreme Court decision in June that effectively made such a question illegal. Now, Trump’s administration continues to push its anti-immigration agenda by using the DMV to obtain addresses and citizenship status for undocumented people with driver’s licenses. 

Trump signed an executive order that would task the Census Bureau by compiling state data to provide citizenship information about each state resident. In August, the Bureau called on each state to sign over its DMV data on its residents. Nebraska is the first state to comply. Nebraska’s DMV will begin handing over data to the U.S. Census Bureau each month, including ID and driver’s license holders citizenship status, as well as their addresses, sex, race, eye color and date of birth.

READ: Trump Administration Is Attempting To Violate State Laws By Requesting Driver’s License Information

Federal Judge Breaks Her Silence After Her Son Was Murdered By Disgruntled Attorney

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Federal Judge Breaks Her Silence After Her Son Was Murdered By Disgruntled Attorney

Eyewitness News ABC7NY / YouTube

Federal Judge Esther Salas is preparing to bury her 20-year-old son. Her son was killed by a disgruntled disguised as a FedEx driver on his birthday weekend. Judge Salas’ husband was hospitalized after being shot multiple times. She is asking for better protection got federal judges and their families.

Judge Esther Salas is demanding better protection and privacy for federal judges.

The video opens with Judge Salas explaining the events that unfolded that day. The emotion grows as she talks about her son finally turning 20 and his excitement to be with his parents. She recalls her son saying that he just wanted to stay and talk to her where the doorbell rings.

Judge Salas remembers her son running up the stairs to answer the door, curious about who it could be. When the door opened, Judge Salas heard gunshots and someone screaming “no.” When she got to her family, she learned that someone dressed as a FedEx delivery person came to the door and opened fire. The son jumped in front of his dad to protect him and died from a bullet wound to the chest.

As a result of the killing, Judge Salas is asking for politicians to do something to protect federal judges. As it stands, the address and other personal information on federal judges are readily available online. Judge Salas wants a way for that information to be hidden from the public.

“At the moment there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable,” Judge Salas said in the video. “My son’s death cannot be in vain, which is why I am begging those in power to do something to help my brothers and sisters on the bench.”

She added: “My family has experienced a pain that no one should ever have to endure. And I am here asking everyone to help me ensure that no one ever has to experience this kind of pain. We may not be able to stop something like this from happening again, but we can make it hard for those who target us to track us down.”

Judge Salas’ video is a hard video to watch as her raw emotion breaks through.

It is devastating to have to bury a child. It is something no parent should have to do. For Judge Salas, she is burying a child that was taken from her in a senseless act of violence perpetrated by a self-proclaimed anti-feminist attorney.

People on social media are standing with the judge in asking for better data protection to save lives.

Data issues have long plagued the Internet and activists want to change that. For many, the issue is protecting data from falling into the wrong hands or for companies, like Facebook, to profit off of our data. For Judge Salas, it is a matter of life or death to protect her colleagues on the bench and their families.

READ: The Government Accountability Office States That ICE And The FBI Are Using DMV Data To Track Undocumented Immigrants

California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

Covid-19 has devastated families financially, especially Latinos. Latino households have experienced disproportionate levels of unemployment and health issues from Covid-19. California is helping undocumented people impacted by the virus.

California is going to help undocumented people struggling during the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the California legislature released a stimulus package to help Californians suffering during the pandemic. The “Major Components of Joint Economic Stimulus Plan” includes financially assisting undocumented people living in California. The plan further stipulates that the state would create a fund to assist those who will lose when the $600 unemployment benefits disappear and any other holes that might remain in the economic injuries of residents.

People are defending the use of tax dollars to help undocumented immigrants.

Undocumented people pay taxes. It is a narrative that anti-immigrant people push to further harm the undocumented community. Advocates have argued that the undocumented community should be protected during this pandemic as much as anyone else. This plan would likely do that.

“Our calls for prompt relief and a bit of human kindness have been heard and we hope soon not another family will go hungry or without essentials such as medication, bars of soap and other hygiene products, as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in the Golden State,” Angelica Salas, executive director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said in a statement.

The virus is still spreading in the U.S. with California being one of the worst-hit states.

The state set a record on July 29 with 12,904 new Covid cases and 192 deaths. The state has been criticized for rushing its reopening strategy that led to a visible explosion of cases in mid-June. That is when California restrictions were lifted before meeting the health guideline standards for a safe reopening.

Latinos are the most impacted community. More Latino households have seen illness and sudden joblessness across the U.S. The federal government has left out undocumented people, who pay taxes, from assistance using tax dollars. California might be the first state to rectify that.

READ: Boston Red Sox Pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez Suffering From Covid-Related Heart Inflammation