Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, August 9, 2019


Page 1


Ninth Circuit:

Driver Privacy Statute Not Violated Where Information Doesn’t Come From DMV


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Sirius XM Radio, Inc., which provides a subscription-based satellite radio service, did not violate the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act by obtaining contact information for a motorist from a used car dealership, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held yesterday.

Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote:

“ ‘WE WANT YOU BACK!’ Many of us have received, through phone calls, emails, texts, and the post, the plaintive entreaties of companies with whom we have decided to cease doing business, seeking recommencement of our patronage. Such was the experience of James Andrews, who, after the dealership from which he bought a used car provided his personal information to Sirius XM Radio Inc…received unsolicited advertisements asking him to renew his radio subscription.

“The primary question before us is whether Sirius XM s use of personal information derived from Andrews’s driver s license violated the Drivers Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (DPPA)…. Because we conclude that the DPPA does not apply where the source of personal information is a driver’s license in the possession of its owner, rather than a state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Sirius XM.”

Inundated With Solicitations

Andrews, after purchasing a vehicle, was deluged with Sirius advertisements. He brought a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California seeking to enjoin Sirius’s practices and obtain for each class member statutory damages of $2,500.

District Court Judge Percy Anderson of the Central District of California held that the statutory requisite for liability—that “personal information” be derived “from a motor vehicle record”—was not met. He denied leave to amend to state a cause of action under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”).

Smith said the DPPA was enacted in 1994 in response to the widespread practice of state DMVs selling personal information relating to motorists or simply giving it out.

License Is ‘Record’

The jurist agreed with Andrews that a driver’s license is a “record,” but that was the extent of his agreement.

“But just because a driver’s license is a ‘record’ does not necessarily mean it is a “motor vehicle record,” he said, declaring:

“[W]e conclude that a driver’s license in the possession of its owner is not a qualifying ‘motor vehicle record’ under the DPPA.”

Leave to amend was properly denied, he added, saying that the CFAA has been described as an “an anti-hacking statute” that is not germane to Sirius’s conduct.

The case is Andrews v. Sirius XM Radio, 18-55169.


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