Consumer Groups Ask Congress to Implement Stricter DPPA

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Consumer advocacy groups yesterday hailed the implementation of the updated 1994 Driver Privacy Protection Act at a heaing on Capitol Hill called by the Senate appropriations transportation subcommittee and urged Congress to do even more. A few states whose state legislatures did not meet this year were given extensions to comply

The DPPA, which will take effect June 1, mandates that states require drivers give specific permission before their information is released for any purpose except law enforcement. On that day, most states will begin implementing provisions that allow consumers to "opt in" to state programs that market their personal information, a change from the current "opt out" provision.

The act was introduced last year by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee.

Reportedly, Phyllis Schafly, president of the conservative Eagle Forum, a proponent of the bill said: "The government does not own its listings of our name, address, phone number, Social Security number, photograph or other personal information just because we are required to provide them for specific purposes…It's bad enough when private interests invade our privacy, but it's positively offensive when the government does this.'"

Some consumer advocates say further changes should include a permanent ban on the sharing of information or building of databases and tough enforcement of states that don't comply.

"There should be no options," said Susan Herman, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime. "Drivers' personal information should never be released except as outlined in the act."

While the groups hailed the bill's increased protections to safeguard drivers' license information, states' motor vehicles administrators said further clarification is needed of the laws aimed at curbing states' ability to sell the license information to businesses and political candidates.

"Clarification would help ensure that state practices are more uniform," said Roger D. Cross, administrator of the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles.

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