That’s funny; I don’t remember ticking that box

parkingYesterday, the UK’s Daily Telegraph reported that the DVLA, that’s the UK’s Driving Vehicle and Licensing Agency were reported to have been selling drivers personal details that were given for the purposes of licencing, taxation, police and court enforcement to private parking and car clamping firms that have long been known to be abusive, here is a list of some of the worst abuses the AA came across last year.
  • Clampers threaten to take three-year-old girl hostage unless mother pays the clamp ransom;
  • A hearse clamped with a body in the back on the way to a funeral;
  • Clampers demand gold tooth from lady in lieu of payment;
  • Clampers demand sexual favours in lieu of cash;
  • Good Samaritan clamped after stopping to help hit-and-run victim;
  • Female teenager left stranded overnight in Birmingham after clamper demands £300 for overstaying ticket by 10 minutes after concert;
  • Pensioners charged £390 when paying 15p fine on library book;
  • Marked police car clamped, with the clamper ending up with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order;
  • Queen’s official protection guard clamped while on duty;
  • AA patrol charged extortionate and record £1,180 while fixing lady’s car.

This still concerns me, as although I live in Canada, I do still have a UK driving licence

This has been going on for at least ten years, last year alone the DVLA were paid £10m ($15m) selling confidential details to these companies. There is actually legislation in place which says you do not even have to even pay their fines, of course when they hold you hostage you don’t really have a choice. While I am not even resident in the UK, the DVLA will still have my information as I still have my European driving license which was registered through them.

This selling of information is in itself a breach of the DPA the exact wording being;

“Regulations allow for the release of information from DVLA’s vehicle register to the police, to local authorities for the investigation of an offence or on-road parking contravention, and to anybody who demonstrates reasonable cause to have the information. Regulations also allow for a fee to be charged to cover the cost of processing requests, but not for a profit to be made.

As a general rule, reasonable cause for the release of data from the DVLA vehicle register relates to motoring incidents with driver or keeper liability. These can include matters of road safety, events occurring as a consequence of vehicle use, the enforcement of road traffic or other legislation and the collection of taxes.”

It looks like they are stretching the understanding of “and to anybody who demonstrates reasonable cause to have the information” after seemingly excluding off-road parking by implicitly stating “on-road parking”.

The correct action if the DVLA considered this a breach would be to inform the victim that their information had been disclosed, this of course has not been discussed. In fact the DVLA is continuing to sell this private data regardless.

One of the biggest problems we have with data security is making relevant data available to authorised users; there are plenty of valid reasons for the DVLA to hold and to share our information. This action will not endear regular people to the same industries that are trying to improve all of our lives for the better.

Could this happen in Canada, the selling of our private information by government agencies to disreputable companies? Well it shouldn’t, while local clamping companies have proved to be just as aggressive, relevant Provincial privacy law is a little different from the UK’s in that it doesn’t allow the passing of personal data from public to private bodies.

This is not clear though, I would suggest that a change is made to the New Brunswick’s Driver’s Licences application webpage, which doesn’t specifically mention Privacy except on the sites generic Privacy link, which in turn links to the entire Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which really is beyond the comprehension of the majority of drivers. Disclosure of the protection your privacy is given not only increases comfort level but will make everyone’s lives a little easier, especially in light that some provinces are rolling out combined Healthcare/Drivers Licences? This should be welcomed.

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