FC: Robert Gellman replies to jlists too eager to side with privacy

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sat Nov 02 2002 - 09:26:32 PST

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    ---
    Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 15:28:15 -0500
    From: Robert Gellman <rgellmanat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: Re: FC: Are journalists too eager to side with privacy over 
    freespeech?
    
    I have to respond to correct an inaccuracy in this posting.
    
     >      being taxed equitably. The article also brings up the infamous case of
     >      Rebecca Schaeffer, the actress who was murdered by a stalker who
     >      tracked her down through state driver's license records. That slaying
     >      spurred Congress to require states to block public access
     >      (http://www.rcfp.org/news/mag/v.cgi?24-1/foi-congress) to driver's
     >      license records  eliminating a tool that reporters have often found
     >      useful to track down a source. The irony, unmentioned in the Business
     >      Week article, is that Schaeffer's killer got her address through a
     >      private investigator  and private investigators continue to have
     >      access (http://www.rcfp.org/news/1999/1115renovc.html) to license
     >      records under the federal law.
    
    The real irony is that critics of the DPPA keep saying that private
    investigators could still get the information that Schaeffer's killer
    wanted.  THAT IS NOT TRUE.  Under 18 USC 2721(a)(8), a licensed private
    investigator can get DMV records "for any purpose permitted under this
    section."  The policy is that if a person is otherwise eligible to get
    DMV records (e.g., a tow truck operator), that person could use a
    private investigator to get the records.  The investigator stands in the
    shoes of his/her client.  In the Schaeffer case, the client has no right
    to get records and the investigator had no right.
    
    This is an urban myth about the DPPA that has been posted routinely,
    often by members of the press.  It would be nice if someone actually
    read the law first.
    
    Bob
    
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