Thursday, May 12, 2005

Exposing yet another enabler

Lurking under the radar of most consumers is yet another company routinely gathering information about everyone and selling it.

Well, not quite everyone anymore. At least not the citizens of the State of Utah.

Now - for a bit of clarification in case someone goes looking: The data snoop-and-sell perpetrator operates under something called "Explore Information Services," but that is a dba for "Robot Aided Manufacturing Center, Inc.," which is actually part of The Schwan Food Company.

For the more curious, the gory details of the particular case can be found here:

But to save time, this Court would like everyone to be aware of what this company is and what they do. Excerpted from the background of the case:

Explore is a Minnesota corporation, registered to do business in the State of Utah. As part of its business, Explore obtains driving record information contained within the motor vehicle records of various states and provides it to insurance companies for underwriting, rating, and claims investigating purposes. Pursuant to an agreement between Explore and the Utah Department of Public Safety's Driver License Division (the Division), which agreement has expired, Explore had received information concerning Utah drivers from the Division, on a monthly basis, since December 1996. The information Explore received was a list of all licensed Utah drivers who had received moving vehicle citations that were reported to the Division during the prior month. The information Explore received included a person's name, driver license number, date of birth, type of driving violation, and the date when the violation was recorded in the Division's database.(1) Explore would then match the names of those individuals reported for violations with names of individuals insured by the various insurance companies to whom Explore provides its services. The district court noted in its findings of fact that, through these reports, Explore obtained the identities of, and information about, 21,726 individuals in June of 2000, and 22,932 in July of 2000. The court also noted that Explore only successfully matches, on average, about 2% of those individuals reported with persons actually insured with the various insurance companies for which Explore works. In other words, 2% of what Explore learns as a kind of busy-body for hire is properly its business, while 98% is not.

Kudos to the Utah Judiciary on this one! As well as the bureaucrats who had the nerve to stand up to the snoops in the first place.

And Schwan's trucks are hereby banned on this side of the Pecos.

The Honorable Judge Roy Bean.

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