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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Cat out of the bag?

The claim by a Conservative peer, whilst speaking in the House of Lords that that he uses friends in the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to track down drivers he spots littering the road and admonish them has caused a bit of a sensation.

That is not because of the extraordinary sense of citizenship demonstrated by Lord Selsdon in tracking down British families driving 4x4 cars to go skiing in the Alps who, he says are amongst the most prolific vehicle-based litterers, but for the data protection implications of his alleged actions.

The Independent reports that a spokesperson for the DVLA denied Lord Selsdon's assertion that he accessed telephone numbers through the agency. The spokesperson contended that the Agency takes its responsibility to protect information seriously. Adding that information is only provided under strict controls to those who are legally entitled to it, such as local authorities and the police.

However, that categorical denial later transmuted into a holding position with a second statement saying: "We are writing to Lord Selsdon to ask him for further information. Depending on his reply we will then decide on whether or not it is necessary to conduct a full investigation."

I await further developments with interest.

Update: Lord Selsdon has now issued an apology in which he said that  his suggestion that he "might have been provided with the personal data of motorists by the DVLA" was "unintentional", and added: "I would like to confirm I have not, at any time, asked for or been given by the DVLA any information which is not in the public domain.

"In particular, I have not been given names or particulars of vehicles.

"I much regret that my speech, without text or notes, should have given rise to press speculation to the contrary and I would like to apologise to the House."


I was rather shocked when altering my insurance for a new car last week. I gave the registration number to the call centre worker and was then immediately told the make etc. of the car. Presumably the call centre had access to the DVLC database? If this is so there is very little point in high security at the DVLC.

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