Monday, December 15, 2008

Judge rules lawsuit against Missouri Department of Revenue can continue

A federal court judge has ruled a suit alleging the Missouri Department of Revenue illegally gave personal driver's license information to third parties for commercial purposes can go to trial.

Judge Nannette Laughrey denied a motion by defendants to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Emily Roberts, Jefferson City; and Sarah Smith, El Dorado Springs, against the Missouri Department of Revenue, the Source for Public Data and Shadowsoft. The case is set to go to trial in October 2009.

At issue is whether the Department of Revenue's decision to sell drivers' personal information to these companies violates the Drivers' Privacy Protection Act.

In her opinion, Judge Laughrey wrote, "Congress could have included an additional exception in section 2721 (b) to allow business entities to obtain highly restried personal information for the purpose of reselling or redirecting it to others with permissible use. It did not do so."

The class action lawsuit, filed in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, was filed on behalf of Ms. Roberts, Ms. Smith, and others whose privacy may have been violated. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are The Source for Public Data LP, doing business as, Dallas, Texas;, Dallas, Texas; Omar Davis, director, Missouri Department of Revenue; and "Does 1 through 10. The "Does" are described in the petition as employees of the Department of Revenue who went along with these alleged actions.

The lawsuit says Public Data and Shadowsoft bought the personal information from the DOR and sold it over the internet:

Prior to February 20, 2008, co-defendant Shadowsoft acquired a large database of
information from Mo. DOR on the pretense that the information would be used only for the legitimate business purpose of verifying the accuracy of information of individuals doing business with Shadowsoft.

The information database acquired by Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR contained “highly restricted personal information”, including social security numbers, belonging to hundreds of thousands of licensed drivers in the State of Missouri.

Upon information and belief, co-defendant Shadowsoft transferred the database
in totum to co-defendant PublicData.

PublicData then made the highly restricted personal information belonging to those individuals, unlawfully acquired from Mo. DOR, available for search and sale on its website, In many instances, the information acquired by
Shadowsoft from Mo. DOR and subsequently sold by PublicData on, included social security numbers.

According to the petition, the action is being filed on behalf of all Missourians whose driver's license information was sold to the companies, and asks the judge to certify the lawsuit as a class action.

The plaintiffs are asking for damages, costs, expenses, and attorneys' fees.

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