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

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California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Things That Matter

California Sets Vaccination Plan For Agricultural Workers During Next Phase

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

The world is racing to vaccinate everyone to put a stop to the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., states and counties are rolling out their own plans based on suggestions from health experts. California, home to the largest population of farmworkers, is making them a priority.

California has laid out their vaccination plan and farmworkers are being prioritized.

California is facing a relentless Covid-19 surge of infections, deaths, and hospitalizations. According to The New York Times, California has the second-highest level of infections per capita in the U.S. More than 30,000 people have died of Covid in California and the vaccination effort has been severely lagging.

California’s vaccination plan has been criticized for its very slow roll out.

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 816,000 doses of the virus have been given to residents. There have been more than 2 million vaccine doses shipped to California. Currently, California, the most populated state in the country, is still in Phase 1A. Phase 1A is for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. The Vaccinate All 58 campaign claims that there are 3 million people in California in Phase 1A. Almost 40 million people live in California.

Activists have been calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to make sure that farmworkers are prioritized.

California is home to the largest concentration of farmworkers in the U.S. The Center for Farmworker Families claims that 500,000 to 800,000 farmworkers, or about 1/3 to 1/2 of the farmworker populations, live in California. Seventy-five percent of farmworkers in California are undocumented.

As the rest of the state was able to shelter in place, farmworkers did not stop working. They provided a necessary lifeline to the nation in keeping the food supply running. Farmworkers are more likely to contract Covid because of their living conditions. Studies show that the low wages that farmworkers are paid means that many live in crowded conditions.

READ: As The U.S. Rolls Out The COVID-19 Vaccine, What’s The Future Of Vaccine Access In Latin America?

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Gavin Newsom Appoints Alex Padilla To Kamala Harris’ Vacant Senate Seat

Things That Matter

Gavin Newsom Appoints Alex Padilla To Kamala Harris’ Vacant Senate Seat

Credit: DNCC via Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is leaving behind a Senate seat representing California. Gov. Gavin Newsom was under pressure to appoint a person of color and he is coming through. Alex Padilla, the Secretary of State of California, will be filling the seat.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed the first Latino senator from California.

Alex Padilla has a spent more than a decade serving the people in California from Los Angeles City Council president to California Senate to secretary of state. Padilla was the favorite to take the seat and gives Southern California rare representation in the United States Senate. As Secretary of State of California, Padilla stood against President Trump and refused to turn over voter data to the administration in 2017.

Padilla was raised by hard working immigrants.

Padilla’s mother and father emigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles individually and eventually met and married. As a shortline cook and a housekeeper, Padilla’s parents instilled in him the value of hard work.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic,” Newsom said in a statement. “He will be a Senator for all Californians.”

Padilla is going to the Senate keep fighting for the values he has defended.

As the country gets ready for a Biden administration, there is a lot of attention on the recovery effort. The Biden administration is going to be tasked with bringing the country back from the brink. Covid has wrecked the economy and upended the lives of millions of families. Biden and the current Senate and House will be responsible for distributing the vaccine and getting the American people back to where they were before the virus devastated the nation.

Congratulations, Sen. Alex Padilla.

California is happy to know that you will be representing us in the Senate.

READ: Here Are The Southern California Latino Politicians Gov. Newsom Should Consider For Kamala Harris’ Empty Seat

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