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Thursday, August 03, 2006

$US50 million settles confusion about privacy laws

Australia’s privacy laws are complex and confusing with doubt reigning in some quarters about scope and coverage and aspects of Federal and state law.

But this snafu in Florida takes the cake: a state authority sold a database of the names of 565,600 motor vehicle drivers (for a cent a name) to a bank that used them for direct mail advertising of an automobile loan offer. However a Federal law in the US at the time prohibited state authorities from selling driver license details.

The end result? A class action against the bank on behalf of the drivers affected was settled for $US50 million including $US10 million in lawyers’ fees.

There were some suggestions that the total compensation in this and some related cases could have run as high as $US40 billion.

The gap in Federal state laws was fixed in 2004.

One can only wonder about what happened to those involved in the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles!

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