Editor’s note: Freedom New Mexico Publisher Ray Sullivan
discussed Web portals in his column in Thursday‘s CNJ. This is Rick
When an individual comes to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to
apply for a driver’s license or a vehicle registration, we ask that
person to entrust us with a lot of personal and confidential
information: a Social Security number, birthdate, address and medical
history. Subsequently, we add moving violations, citations and updated
identity and medical information.
What many people don’t realize is we are asked daily to release this
personal information to all kinds of businesses and government
agencies, including insurance companies, employers that hire lots of
drivers, law enforcement agencies and courts, and reporters. Because so
much of the information in our database is confidential and sensitive,
there are strict state and federal laws that govern what we can
release, and to whom.
MVD could process all these requests manually, and in accordance
with the law, but the commercial users wouldn’t be satisfied. They need
the information right away and that requires a sophisticated and
expensive database, with security features and payment options.
New Mexico taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for this
customized service. Instead, we have issued a Request for Proposal
(RFP) to select an experienced database company to offer a user-funded
Web portal. The portal will provide the option of immediate access,
while adhering to strict state and federal privacy laws.
The primary law that governs what’s private and what’s public is the
federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), and the accompanying
state law. The law requires us to obtain written agreement from all
“eligible users,” not to release confidential information to others,
and to use the information only for the use “authorized” by DPPA and
On the other hand, the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act
governs the release of information. This act requires us to respond
within 15 days to requests for public information, including driver and
vehicle records. The law also requires us to withhold information that,
by law, is considered “private.” We charge 25 cents a page for this
For at least the last six years, the MVD has had in force contracts
with six companies that purchase and resell personal data. These
contracts expire this spring and cannot, by law, be renewed. The MVD
transmits its entire database to these companies monthly, and updates
them daily. We believe this arrangement is a ticking time bomb that
could result in a major security breach — which would cause havoc to
our primary customers, New Mexico citizens.
At the same time, we recognize commercial businesses must have
timely access to this personal information — or else we could witness a
major disruption of the insurance industry, or a public safety disaster
because driver records couldn’t be monitored daily.
With all this in mind, I am pursuing the following two-pronged strategy to provide access to public records.
• First, in regards to public records access, we will continue to
follow the Inspection of Public Records Act. Even though we can, by
law, charge up to $1 a page, we only charge 25 cents. We also accept
e-mail requests. Some people have suggested