TAMPA - Few Florida citizens realize it, but your personal information is for sale. The State of Florida has been selling driver’s license information to businesses for years, and the courts have ruled there is nothing illegal about it.
I-Team investigator Michael George caught up with Tampa resident Larry Brindley when he was getting a copy of his driving record at the local Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) office. He had already been waiting in line for two and a half hours.
When George asked him if he would be willing to show our cameras his personal information on his driver’s license, he said what most of us would say. “No," Brindley answered, "because it’s my personal information.”
What Larry may not realize is that his information is already out there, on several websites. Almost everything that’s on his driver’s license -- full name, date of birth, address, and driver’s license number -- is online. The state sells millions of Florida drivers’ personal information to companies like Texas-based ShadowSoft, Inc.
“This is an example of the government invading our rights to privacy,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Shelbi Day. The ACLU argues just because the practice is legal doesn’t make it right.
“I would assume that most Floridians have no idea that this is even occurring, and I think that most would be deeply disturbed,” Day added.
Through a records request, the I-Team obtained a contract between HSMV and ShadowSoft, Inc.
In the contract, ShadowSoft agrees it won’t sell the data for illegal purposes, such as marketing or advertising. ShadowSoft pays HSMV $.01 per record they requested. Last year, they paid the state approximately $53,000, amounting to more than 5 million records requested.
The company tells us they provide the data to businesses who want to verify their customers’ information. Examples they offered were a hospital trying to track down a patient whose address might have changed, or a business trying to reach a customer to notify them of a product recall.
A copy of the contract: