Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Our legislature, at work:
Lots of concern about this bill (Miami Herald story) (S2416) chugging through the Florida Legislature. It will require drivers to opt in if they want information on their records available to public records vendors. A hot email campaign has been convincing Floridians that not having this is a violation of the federal driver privacy act. Not sure this is so, but I think the claims -- that your personal information is sold to anyone who wants it -- are exaggerated. The state has always sold driver license lists to certain public records resellers, who sell it to other vendors who severely restrict who has access to the information; in cases when lists are resold as mailing lists most of the info has been deleted. Nothing new. And people have had the option of opting out for a few years now, and now can do it directly from the DHSMV Website.
But obviously, this campaign is having an effect. According to this story, about a million and a half people have opted out in the last few months.
Journalists who need to be able to verify people's identities, are already having a hard time getting access to enough information to be useful, and are very restricted on how to use it: we can only use it to verify IDs, not to publish information or use to contact people. Passage of this bill will probably mean the end of access to these records at all. The Florida First Amendment Foundation is working against this bill.


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