June 2015 Column - State asked to change policy for selling personal information

A few weeks ago it was discovered that New York State had earned $60 million from selling residents’ personal information that is collected through the DMV to for-profit companies. Drivers had no idea that this was going on, and while the state was collecting the money, residents were being put at increased risk of identity theft.

Everyone that I have talked to about this issue had no idea the state was engaged in such a practice and was turning required DMV information into profit. Information that is being sold includes make and model of vehicles, driving records, birthdates and addresses.

This is being done in secret. When residents go to the DMV to register their vehicle or renew their license, as required, they have no idea they are basically handing over their personal information to for-profit companies that are willing to pay. It is my understanding that you can opt out and keep your personal information protected, however the procedure to do so is not clearly explained by the state.

Last week Erie County joined officials and municipalities across the state who are calling for an end to this practice. The Legislature unanimously approved a resolution that supports changing the state policy to end the “opt out approach.” The state should give residents the option to opt in if they want their information sold. The current method places the burden on residents and makes them opt out to protect their information. That is wrong.  

In another matter, the Legislature recently approved spending $5.8 million of the 2014 surplus on additional road work this year. Our roads and bridges are in bad shape and we have to invest in them. A strong surplus allows the county to evaluate where it stands and reinvest the money smartly. We cannot ignore the conditions of our infrastructure and this allocation was extremely appropriate at this time.  

Last year the Legislature took a similar action and appropriated $5 million from the fund balance for 2014 road work. By the end of construction season, the Department of Public Works was able to spend more than 85 percent of the funding and complete several critical road projects that otherwise would not have been accomplished. The County Executive clearly learned from our leadership and I am happy to see that our push for infrastructure funding influenced his decision on where to reinvest surplus money.

I am interested in hearing your comments on any of the above mentioned topics or other county issues. Please contact me at 858-8922 or email joseph.lorigo@erie.gov.

Legislator Lorigo



Phone: (716) 858-8922
Fax: (716) 858-8818

Legislator Joseph C. Lorigo - District 10
Old Erie County Hall
92 Franklin Street, 4th Floor
Buffalo, NY 14202