Privacy Law

Why is this lawyer's driver’s license so popular?

Lawyer Brooke Bass’ driver’s license is apparently of great interest to people working for more than 100 agencies, most of them law enforcement, in the state of Minnesota.

Bass’ license information was accessed more than 700 times in the past eight years, according to her lawyer, Kenn Fukuda, and she deserves compensation for the privacy breach. Fukuda spoke to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which says the allegations, if true, would make Bass the person with the greatest number of privacy breaches in the state’s “increasingly broad and increasingly expensive license-data debacle.”

Bass is currently executive director of human resources for Rochester Public Schools. For six years, however, she worked for the state’s largest police union.

Federal law allows Bass to seek damages of at least $2,500 for each time her data was wrongly accessed, according to the story. But her lawyer sought $10,000 in a letter to one of the cities where officers were accused of looking at Bass’ data. So far she has filed 58 claims, according to the claims manager for the League of Minnesota Cities, which is representing entities accused of privacy violations.

The driver’s license problem became news when a former St. Paul police officer claimed in a lawsuit last year that other officers accessed her driver’s license data more than 550 times, the Pioneer Press says. The allegation spurred an audit report that found more than half of Minnesota law enforcement officers with access to driver’s license information may have made inappropriate searches. One official, a fired Department of Natural Resources officer, is facing criminal charges claiming he made more than 19,000 improper license searches.

At least five would-be class actions have been filed on behalf of those whose data was accessed by the fired official.

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