DVLA selling info to car park bandits

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Something is definitely wrong in the DVLA according to the BBC’s Watchdog, which has information, that drivers’ personal data is being sold to private companies that are using it illegally to extort money from innocent citizens.  The DVLA is said to have made £2.7 million from the sale of data to parking companies, just in the last year.

The sale of personal data is legal, provided the companies buying it are approved members of the British Parking Association and fully complying with its Code of Practice.  It appears that some of these parking companies are flouting the rules and getting away with it.  This is going on even though the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has said that strict rules are in place to prevent misuse of the data.

These companies are hired by airports, supermarkets and other public areas of business to enforce their private parking regulations and to collect money owed in parking charges.  To this end the DVLA provides drivers’ information to the companies, for a fee.  The parking companies have no authority under the criminal justice system, and under DVLA regulations they cannot impose ‘penalties’ or ‘fines’, only ‘charges’.  Some of them are doing it anyway.

Under the current regulations, parking companies must respond to complaints or questions about their charges within 14 days.  Watchdog has numerous reports from citizens who waited more than three months for a reply, and then got an unsatisfactory response, if any.  Photos used as ‘evidence’ of parking violations were not dated, and even when the citizen was clearly in the right, the charges were still applied.

The BPA’s Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) is theoretically enforced by a board consisting of representatives from RAC Foundation and Institute of Advanced Motorists, as well as other consumer organizations.  The Watchdog investigation will be broadcast on Thursday night.

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