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Kearns: New survey shows majority of Erie County registrants want to opt-out of having information sold by NYS

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Wed, Mar 28th 2018 06:25 pm
Erie County Clerk Kearns to FOIL NYS Department of Motor Vehicles
A new survey, conducted at the Erie County Auto Bureaus, indicates vehicle registrants would choose to opt-out of having their information sold by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns collected a week's worth of survey results, totaling 1,500 surveys. Of the Auto Bureau customers surveyed, 95 percent said they would choose to opt-out of having their registration information sold by the state.
According to the state vehicle and traffic law section 202.4, the DMV is permitted to sell personal registration information, under certain circumstances and for specific purposes, to third-party contractors. This law also states registrants must be made aware they can opt-out of having their information sold at the time of registering or renewing the registration of their vehicle. However, following a review of Auto Bureau documents, none were found to have information about opting-out on the form.
"The issue with the way this information is being handled is that people aren't really given the option to opt-out," Kearns said. "I was surprised to find that none of the documents sent to the Auto Bureaus from the state DMV provide information about the opt-out option on the forms. I strongly believe that people have a right to decide how they want their personal information used, and clearly from this survey there are many who do not want their information in third-party databases. The state needs to follow its own law and visibly provide information to vehicle registrants about opting-out at the time of registration or renewal."
Furthermore, the law states registrants can "opt-out," by writing to the third-party contractor and expressing their wish to have their information deleted. However, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles does not provide a list of who its sell the information to. Kearns will submit a FOIL request for a list of what companies hold contracts with the NYS DMV to purchase registrants information.
Currently, there is pending legislation in New York, put forth by State Sen. and former Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, which would force the DMV to clearly provide an opt-out option on DMV forms.
"My legislation mandates that DMV will clearly and prominently place opt-out information on all its forms, as well as its website," Jacobs said. "It's sad and frustrating that you have to pass a law to compel a state agency to abide by an existing law, but since the DMV has not managed to make this opt-out information public, my legislation will specifically direct them on how to do so."
Information permitted to be sold to contracting parties under the NYS traffic and vehicle law 202 includes name and address of the owner of the vehicle, and the make, model, year, weight, body style, number of passengers and cylinders, fuel, license number, type of registration and transaction, validation and expiration date, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle.
Should registrants choose to opt-out, according to the law, their information would be deleted from the contracting party's file for all purposes, except issuance of manufacturer's warranty, safety recall or similar notices or statistical complications.

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