Motor vehicle departments around the United States are taking drivers’ personal information and selling it to a range of businesses, including private investigators, generating millions of dollars in revenue, said a scathing new report.
According to Motherboard, which obtained hundreds of pages of documents through public records requests, members of the public are likely not even aware that the data they’re obligated to provide is being sold — in some instances, to private investigators who specifically advertise they’ll surveil spouses to see if they’re cheating.
“You need to learn what they’ve been doing, when they’ve been doing it, who they’ve been doing it with and how long it has been going on. You need to see proof with your own eyes,” says the website of Integrity Investigations, one private investigator company that purchases data from DMVs.
The Virginia DMV has sold data to 109 private investigator firms, while the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has sold data to at least 16 private investigation firms, according to spreadsheets viewed by Motherboard. In addition, records obtained by the news outlet revealed that the Wisconsin DMV made more than $17 million selling drivers’ data.
Other companies, including consumer credit reporting agency Experian and research company LexisNexis, have also been beneficiaries of the DMV data, according to Motherboard.
Beyond basic privacy concerns, one expert said, there could be big implications for someone fleeing an abusive situation.