Senate bill would restrict driver license data, motor vehicle records
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Further restrictions on the dissemination of personal information contained in drivers licenses and motor vehicle records have been proposed in the Senate’ appropriation bill for the Department of Transportation.
The provision would prevent the distribution of personal data and photographs without the express written consent of the individual. However, law enforcement officials are permitted to gain access to driver’s information.
Sponsored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the bill has cleared the appropriations committee and debate by the full Senate is expected shortly.
Unlike the embattled Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which was not linked to federal funding, the new provision mandates that recipients of federal transportation funding shall not disseminate driver’s information to any other person or entity.
The DPPA was passed as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It prohibits the states from releasing certain personal information, including a person’s name, social security number and photograph unless the state establishes a system allowing individuals to “opt out” of having information about themselves released.
However, the constitutionality of the DPPA is uncertain. The DPPA has been struck down by the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits as a violation of state sovereignty, and the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal in the matter.
In a press release, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) said he would introduce a similar measure in the House of Representatives.
“Threatening to restrict state’s federal highway funds is the best way we can encourage states to think twice about what they do with the information they collect,” Hinchey said. (S. 1143)