By Robert Nolin
Posted: 9:34 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
A lawsuit against the state of Florida over the sale of personal driver's license information to a private firm may proceed as a class action, a federal judge has ruled.
The suit claims the state, specifically the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, improperly sold personal information gleaned from about 31 million driver's license records to Shadowsoft Inc., an Irving, Texas-based Internet marketer. Shadowsoft then sold the information to other firms that target consumers.
The records sales, which a lawyer in the case said brought in a large yet unspecified amount of money to the state, took place between 2005 through 2009.
Such sales, however, violate a federal statute banning the disclosure of personal information from driver's licenses, said Howard Bushman, an attorney with the Miami law firm representing the affected drivers. The information released included addresses, dates of birth and possibly Social Security numbers, Bushman said.
Earlier this month in Tallahassee, U.S. Circuit Judge Robert Hinkle allowed drivers whose privacy rights may have been violated to become members of the suit.
The extent of any money award, and which drivers would be entitled to it, won't be determined until after the case is settled or tried successfully in the plaintiffs' favor.
"We're pushing forward with the case," Bushman said. "There's a lot of work to be done."