Departments of Motor Vehicles around the United States—including in Virginia, Florida, Delaware, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Texas—have sold drivers’ personal information to businesses, including private investigators, according to a new report from Vice’s Motherboard. States have reportedly made tens of millions of dollars annually selling the data to such companies, including to insurance and towing businesses. Some of the DMVs told Motherboard that the data sold to these companies does not include photographs or social security numbers.
The practice has raised privacy concerns, including for survivors of abuse, said Erica Olsen, director of Safety Net at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “The selling of personally identifying information to third parties is broadly a privacy issue for all and specifically a safety issue for survivors of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking,” she said. “For survivors, their safety may depend on their ability to keep this type of information private.”