HARRISBURG – After Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-16) in August raised legal questions about the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) and Pennsylvania Department of State practice of sharing driver license information with an outside vendor, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt today in a letter announced the administration of Gov. Josh Shapiro is ending the questionable practice.
“I have been asking and will continue to ask if any laws were broken when these departments worked together to provide driver information to an outside organization,” Coleman said.
PennDOT has been providing driver information to the Department of State. The Department of State then passed that driver information along to an outside organization, the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR). CEIR is a private, nonprofit organization.
Coleman in an Aug. 28 letter to PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll raised questions about the legality of sharing driver information with the Department of State and CEIR. Coleman specifically questioned if the practice violated the Federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994. That act contains broad provisions prohibiting the sharing of driver information.
An agreement between PennDOT and the Department of State prohibits the release of driver information unless it is anonymized. It also prohibits data sharing without the express written consent of the secretary of PennDOT.
Coleman in his letter requested a copy of the express written consent PennDOT provided to authorize the release of the information through the Department of State to CEIR.
Carroll has not provided answers or documents to Coleman, even though the letter requested the materials by Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Schmidt instead today announced his agency is ending the practice and will no longer share driver information with CEIR. Schmidt sent a letter to the executive director of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). ERIC is a third-party vendor that shares information with CEIR.
“I’m glad they’re ending the process of sharing driver information with an outside organization, but that doesn’t answer the question of whether it was legal in the first place,” Coleman said. “Driver information already was shared and they can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. If the law was broken, the people responsible for this should be held accountable.”
Coleman serves as chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee. He is working with committee staff to consider their options – including potentially subpoenaing Carroll and Schmidt to appear before the committee under oath – to determine if laws were broken and Pennsylvanians’ private information was illegally shared with CEIR.
“Pennsylvanians deserve to have their privacy rights upheld and protected by state government departments under the authority of the governor,” Coleman said. “I will continue pushing for answers and accountability for the Pennsylvanians whose private information may have been illegally shared with an outside organization.”
Residents who want to learn more about Coleman can visit his website at www.SenatorColeman.com, follow him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SenatorJarrettColeman and sign up for email newsletters at www.SenatorColeman.com/eNewsletters.
CONTACT: Leo Knepper