The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) could face an inquiry by the information watchdog after it emerged that it released personal details of 23 million motorists last year.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that it is looking into issues around the sharing of driver data to third parties after motoring groups questioned the scale of information sharing and the legitimacy of some of the requests.
According to the Times, half of the requests were made by local councils but the DVLA also made almost £20 million in 2018 from sharing vehicle keeper details with other groups such as private parking firms, bailiffs and private investigators.
The data represents the records of almost two thirds of vehicle owners in the country and the level of sharing has led to questions about whether it abides by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) introduced last year.
Anyone can request information about a vehicle or its keeper if they have “reasonable cause” such as trying to find out who was responsible for an accident, issuing parking tickets or tracing the keeper of an abandoned vehicle.
As well as councils, bailiffs chasing unpaid traffic fines were responsible for 1.9m record requests and private parking firms for 6.8m last year.
When you can request driver details
- finding out who was responsible for an accident
- tracing the registered keeper of an abandoned vehicle
- tracing the registered keeper of a vehicle parked on private land
- giving out parking tickets
- giving out trespass charge notices
- tracing people responsible for driving off without paying for goods and services
- tracing people suspected of insurance fraud
The ICO said it had not yet launched an investigation but that it was “aware of the issues around the sharing of registered keepers details between the DVLA and private parking companies, and [was] currently considering if and how new data protection laws affect this data sharing”.
The DVLA told the Times it had “strict controls” in place for data sharing and had made comprehensive preparations to meet GDPR requirements.
Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “It is absolutely astonishing. 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.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, added that the DVLA needed to reassure motorists it was only sharing information with companies “with a legitimate interest in it and… that these companies and agencies use the information appropriately”.
The revelation comes after an RAC Foundation investigation discovered a 20 per cent increase in the number of requests made by private parking firms. It revealed that an extra 2.05 million requests for keeper information were made in the 2018/19 financial year compared with 2017/18.