Monday, December 21, 2009

Class Certified in Privacy Action over Sale of Missouri Driver’s License Data

This posting was written by Thomas A. Long, Editor of CCH Privacy Law in Marketing.

Class certification has been granted by the federal district court in Kansas City to Missouri residents whose personal information was allegedly obtained by a data mining company from the Missouri Department of Revenue and sold to an online database operator, in violation of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (CCH Privacy Law in Marketing ¶25,500).

The data mining company allegedly acquired a large database from the Department of Revenue by falsely claiming that the information in the database was to be used to verify the identity of individuals doing business with the company. The database contained driver’s license information about class members, including their Social Security numbers.

The company allegedly transferred the information to the online database operator, which made the information available for sale on its website. The Department of Revenue allegedly authorized or participated in the dissemination of the class members’ personal data.

It was estimated that at least 300,000 Social Security numbers were in the database, which was sufficient to establish numerosity for class certification purposes, the court said. Class members’ claims involved several common issues of law and fact. The named class representative asserted that her claims emanated from the same legal theory or offense as the claims of the class.

A class action was superior to other methods of adjudicating the claims, in the court's view. Given the large number of potential plaintiffs and the commonality of their claims, class action treatment would be more efficient than individual adjudications.

The class was defined to include all licensed drivers in the state of Missouri whose personal information from their motor vehicle records was obtained, disclosed, or used by the defendants between July 21, 2004 and the present.

The decision is Roberts v. The Source for Public Data, CCH Privacy Law in Marketing ¶60,404.

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