The DVLA is facing an investigation into whether its data sharing practices are in breach of GDPR following reports the organisation handed over the personal details of over 23 million drivers to third parties last year, sparking claims that “any old Tom, Dick and Harry” can access the information.
The Department of Transport agency holds more than 47 million driver records and over 39 million vehicle records. Under the Freedom of Information Act, the DVLA releases certain information to those who can legally receive it, however, it insists they must show “reasonable cause” and pay the appropriate fee.
Private investigators and bailiffs are among the biggest users of the service, often so they can chase up outstanding parking fines.
Public sector organisations can access the data for free, but private firms must pay £2.50 to cover administrative costs. It has been claimed that the DVLA charged for access in nearly 8 million of the 23 million cases in 2018, potentially raising £19.5m from the process.
The ICO has confirmed it is investigating the practice, particularly in light of GDPR. A spokeswoman told The Times: “[We are] considering if and how new data protection laws affect this data sharing.”
But Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association, branded the practice “absolutely astonishing”. He added: “At a time when there are so many sensitivities around data, it just seems baffling that any old Tom, Dick or Harry can get hold of this data.”
His concerns are shared by RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding, who warned that the DVLA needed to do more to reassure motorists their data was only released to those with a legitimate interest and that these companies and agencies “use this information appropriately”.
In response, the DVLA maintained it had undertaken “comprehensive preparations in readiness” for GDPR.
Concerns over the organisation’s data sharing practices were first aired back in 2011, when the DVLA was accused of “scandalously” selling the personal details of more than a million motorists to “dodgy characters”.
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