ad info




CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
 ASIANOW
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
   computing
   personal technology
   space
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast
 pagenet

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:
COMPUTING

U.S. Supreme Court takes up driver's license data privacy

by Heather Hayes

From...
Civic.com

May 21, 1999
Web posted at: 4:00 PM EDT

(IDG) -- In a move that could have long-term ramifications for individual privacy concerns and state autonomy over public records, the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide whether or not states have the right to sell or distribute personal information collected from driver's license applications.

The litigation fueling the issue is Reno v. Condon -- South Carolina's challenge to the 1994 Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September struck down the law as unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court is poised to review that decision.

In its decision, the Appeals Court ruled that Congress was stepping illegally into state territory and noted further that there exists no constitutional right to privacy in information contained in public records.
MORE COMPUTING INTELLIGENCE
IDG.net   IDG.net home page
  Civic.com home page
  Get a free subscription to Civic.com's print edition
 Reviews & in-depth info at IDG.net
  IDG.net's personal news page
  IDG.net's products pages
  Year 2000 World
  Questions about computers? Let IDG.net's editors help you
  Subscribe to IDG.net's free daily newsletters
  Search IDG.net in 12 languages
 News Radio
 * Fusion audio primers
 * Computerworld Minute
   

DPPA was passed in the aftermath of the murder of actress Rebecca Schaeffer, slain by a stalker who found her residential address through the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The law bars states and their employees from selling or releasing personal information such as Social Security numbers, photographs, addresses, telephone numbers and birthdays.

Until the law was passed, at least 35 states had made motor vehicle records public in some form, and many had routinely sold personal information to direct marketing firms, businesses, charities, other organizations and even private individuals. New York, for example, earned $17 million in one year selling drivers' records, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

But the 1997 law contains several exceptions that allow personal information to be released to law enforcement officials, courts, government agencies, private investigators and even businesses such as insurance companies.

The one group that didn't receive an exception was the media. Free speech advocates complain that the Driver's Privacy Protection Act violates the First Amendment, and many, including the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Newspaper Association of America, supported the South Carolina challenge.

South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon, when hearing that the Supreme Court agreement to hear the case, said he believed citizens have a right to keep their privacy protected -- which he says is guaranteed by a clause in the South Carolina Constitution. But the real question is who should be enforcing that protection Condon said. Condon and other state officials strongly believe that states should have full autonomy when it comes to administering public records. In the case before the Supreme Court, South Carolina will argue that the new federal law violates the 10th Amendment.

"The people of Carolina established drivers' records, maintained them, and have a right to determine their use," he said in a statement. "South Carolina should be run by South Carolinians. If the federal government can tell us what to do with these records, it can tell us we can't keep records at all. The 10th Amendment is the legal and spiritual guardian of state rights. Washington, D.C., is a long way from South Carolina, and the federal government needs to keep its distance."

The U.S. Justice Department, meanwhile, argues that the federal government has the right to regulate the records under the Constitution's commerce clause. Specifically, DOJ contends that new law regulates the disclosure of personal information by DMV offices in the same way that similar federal statutes regulate disclosures by video stores, cable television companies, credit bureaus and electronic communication services. Officials declined to comment on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear the case.


RELATED STORIES:
Secret Service aided license photo database
February 18, 1999
S.C. argues against company use of driver's licenses
February 4, 1999
U.S. out of our database: ACLU requests hearing
February 24, 1999

RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
Analysis cuts truck accident rate
(Computerworld)
Car referral services rev up consumer buying savvy
(Computerworld)
Intelligent Transportation Systems: The New Road Rage
(Civic.com)
Don't lose any sleep over online privacy -- It's already too late
(InfoWorld)
The consumer battle over online information privacy has just begun
(InfoWorld)
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

RELATED SITES:
Federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act F.A.Q.
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
 LATEST HEADLINES:
SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.