September 30, 2011
Seventh Circuit Says West Can Resell State Drivers License Records To Authorized Users
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that it’s OK for West Publishing to acquire driver’s license records, store them in a bulk database, and resell that information to authorized users. West was on the receiving end of a class action suit that accused the company of violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”), 18 U.S.C. § 2722. The Act limits the disclosure of driver license records by state DMVs, though there are 14 exceptions. Bulk sales to vendors was not one of those exceptions, though West prevailed nonetheless.
The case came to the Seventh Circuit on a plaintiff appeal after a successful motion to dismiss. The District Court concluded that plaintiffs did not have standing and did not state a claim under the DPPA. The Court of Appeals reversed on the standing issue but affirmed dismissing the case based on the allegation that West violated the Act. West could, the Court concluded, act as an agent for those with an authorized use under the Act. The Court synthesized precedent from the Sixth and Ninth Circuits as justification for its decision. The Court explained it is a good thing that there are these centralized depositories, otherwise DMVs would be overwhelmed by individual requests which number in the millions per year. For those asking, the 14 authorized uses are in footnote 1 on page 4 of the opinion.
So, anyone know how much capital it takes to become a commercial mirror for desirable individual records containing sensitive information? The opinion is Graczyk v. West Publishing Company (10-1193). [MG]