PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Tell folks on the street that PennDOT is selling personal information on drivers, this reaction is common.
“Any personal information should stay personal. I can’t even believe that is up for sale. That’s just crazy,” says Ashten Farah of Squirrel Hill. “It bothers me, yeah, that I wouldn’t know that it was being sold. That’s my personal information. That’s crazy. I’m appalled by that. Really?”
Personal data on some of us, including the last 10 years of motor vehicle violations, is for sale at $9 per driver, garnering PennDOT a record-high $41 million this past year.
Why is PennDOT doing this?
“The information is there if an individual is going through an employment application process, and driving might be a requirement for them,” says Mike Moser, a PennDOT spokesperson.
Employers, insurance companies, credit companies each have been accessing the information for decades, says Moser.
About 9 million Pennsylvanians have these driver licenses, and if you’ve ever checked out what’s on there, you’ll see, besides your name and address and photograph, it also has your height, your eye color, and your date of birth.
This is all information that could be very useful to identity thieves.
PennDOT’s Moser says not all that info is provided, and in most cases, drivers sign off the release of this information.
But in a new wrinkle, the state Senate just approved a bill — opposed by Gov. Tom Wolf — to give insurance companies access to records of all drivers in a household without even having the drivers’ names.
University of Pittsburgh law professor David Thaw says that raises serious privacy concerns.
“Under that proposal, I would be able to use incomplete information to get information usable to identity theft,” says Thaw.