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I would bet fairly good money that this originally came about as part of a government transparency effort - allowing the public to provide a check and balance against the DMV's power, with a monetary cost to cover processing expenses (theoretically saving tax money). They even show this occurring in the movie "Gone in 60 Seconds" from 2000.

That it's been co-opted for marketing isn't really surprising; most of your public records are consumed by private companies to use to make money off you. One big example is how legal proceedings show up on your credit report.

EDIT: Your driving record is indeed a public record[1]. So, easy bet.

[1] https://www.dmv.org/public-records/

It's nice they put that huge disclaimer at the top, I was actually wondering why it's not a .gov link before I clicked it.

You take the good, you take the bad.

You take it all and then you have...

Government accountability efforts mis-used by private corporations? ;)

The facts of life.

Can one submit a FOIA request, load that data into a database, and sell that data to others?

Why do companies pay the DMV for this information if they can just FOIA it from them for free?

I'm not familiar with CA's public records laws to say for sure, but I'm familiar with other public records laws, and have submitted ~1k requests throughout the US.

Technically, yes, you can request records from FOIA and sell them. Though, many public records laws are very specific about whether you are requesting as a for-profit org, and can deny your request on that basis. If that isn't the issue, then your request can be rejected for being voluminous, so generally you have to find a public interest argument for the release of records. That public interest argument very, very likely doesn't exist in the case of the info being sold here. It ends up being a major PITA to get large amounts of data.

So, orgs instead go down the contract route. There's really no need to go through the hassle of public records nuance if your contract includes access to those records.

(This is a super deep subject, so I'm just scratching the surface.)


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