Excellent news! Texas DPS and DMV are stopping promoting your private info to advertising and marketing corporations


Effective immediately, the Texas Department of Public Safety and Division of Motor Vehicles is no longer allowed to sell your personal information to annoying companies that flood you with spam calls and letters.

The Texas legislature did a very good thing. No, this is not a misprint. Those words haven’t been uttered lately, but in one area – your personal privacy – they deserve a hip, hip, and hooray.

Protected records include name, address, photo, phone number, date of birth, email address, and driver’s license number. For vehicles you drive there is VIN, registration, title information, your driving license, how much you paid for the car and to whom, accidents and the make, model and color of your car.

Data sales averaging about $ 90 million a year when all other state agencies are included has long been a widespread practice within state government, records show.

“Today there are more than a thousand agencies with which these records are shared by the Ministry of Public Safety or the Ministry of Motor Vehicles,” a note reads.

“Since the authorities have no control over how this information is then passed on, the information can end up in the hands of bad actors. This can lead to fraudulent behavior, such as making calls about a person’s vehicle warranty. “

I mean don’t we know

The new law also requires government agencies that sell our data to put bogus names on their lists so that the use of the data can be tested to ensure that it is not being misused.

The Watchdog first made you aware of this massive sell-off of your data in 2015. I reported that DMV raised $ 2.4 million for data sales in 2014. The money was paid into the state road fund.

What could have been a turning point for this year’s Protection Act? Aside from the harassment of spam calls and junk mail, this was the year of the largest data breach in Texas.

Vertafore’s data theft is blamed on a Denver-based insurance software company that has lost 27 million Texas driver’s license records, experts say, the dark web where information is sold to criminals.

When I mentioned the privacy breach to longtime Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, who wrote and enforced the new privacy law, he laughed and said, “You don’t need a privacy breach to get it. They had to be put on the subscription list and they could just get the entire list. “

Nichols is the hero of this story. He didn’t get a lot of support.

“There is no such thing as a privacy lobbyist. There are no organized efforts to protect your privacy, ”he said.

When he learned that DPS made $ 67 million in one year selling our data to 1,200 companies, he said, “I feel like I’m on the wrong track.”

Big data broker lobbyists were trying to smash his bill, he said.

This makes the passage in his draft law all the more remarkable.

A new state law banning Texas DPS and DMV from selling your personal information to outside marketing companies has gone into effect. State Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, is the author. The bill came into force in June 2021.(Mark Matson)

Nichols said state lawmakers are getting the same crooked spam calls as you.

According to the new law, DPS and DMV are no longer allowed to sell their records to most external companies.

Certain institutions such as banks, auto companies, insurance companies, auto dealers, governments, courts, and law enforcement agencies will still have access to the information for business purposes.

The new law also grants exemptions for companies, charities, contractors, and religious organizations that need the information to conduct background checks on staff and volunteers.

For the first time, a private company purchasing data must provide a $ 1 million performance guarantee. Data buyers are also required to provide proof of general liability and cybersecurity coverage of at least $ 3 million.

These high entry fees were supposed to block many of the companies that bought Texas data and then improperly resold it to third party marketing companies who would not have been allowed to buy it directly.

According to records received by State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, over the past five years, the state government has sold our identification information to hundreds of companies for $ 450 million.

The new law now bans the government from selling subscription lists to two state-produced magazines: Texas Highways and Texas Parks & Wildlife. (As a subscriber to both of them, I had no idea.)

Penalties for violations such as selling our data to an unauthorized recipient can be up to $ 100,000 under the new law.

If your data is compromised, you can sue for damages in a district court under the new law.

In a statement, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Nichols for passing the law, saying Texans “don’t expect their personal information to be sold to marketing companies or bad actors. … Senate Act 15 will help prevent fraud and increase data protection. “

Most states already had stricter laws to protect the privacy of their residents.

This is a good day thanks to the Texas legislature. We cannot say that often enough.

The new law

Senate Bill 15 – The Texas Consumer Protection Act

– DPS and DMV must stop selling data to marketing companies.

– For the past five years, the state has sold our data to outsiders for an average of $ 90 million a year. The money went to the state treasury.

– The data sold included driver’s license information, photo, date of birth, email address, phone numbers, your driving records (including accidents), how much your car costs and more.

– Violators can be fined up to $ 100,000 and sued in the district court

– The bill was drafted by Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville. It passed the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously and was put into effect by Governor Greg Abbott.

– It came into effect on June 18.

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