California DMV Exposed More Than 3,200 Drivers’ Social Security Info

The recent DMV data breach poses a serious problems for illeal immigrant driver's license holders.The recent DMV data breach poses a serious problems for illeal immigrant driver's license holders. Photo: Chris Harrison | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

More than 3,200 Californians had their Social Security information leaked to several federal agencies after the California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted on Tuesday that they had suffered a data breach. The DMV explained that other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, were able to access information of citizens relating to their social security improperly. 

The California DMV, tasked to issue driver’s licenses to Californians, notified their clients that Social Security information – including whether or not they have a social security number – has been accessed by other federal agencies. 

Local news outfits reveal that the data were sent to at least seven U.S. federal and state agencies. These include:

  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General
  • Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General
  • California Office of Health and Human Services
  • San Diego County District Attorney’s Office and Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office

DMV officials said that the data breach was discovered on August 2, and the unauthorized access has already been cut off after its discovery. Anita Gore, deputy director of communications at the California DMV, said in an emailed statement that no hacking involved in the breach, adding that the information was not shared with individual persons. 

“Protection of personal information is important to DMV, and we have taken additional steps to correct this error, protect this information and reaffirm our serious commitment to protecting the privacy rights of all license holders,” Gore said.

“That’s why DMV immediately began correcting the access error following a legal compliance review, ensured that no additional confidential information was disclosed to these entities, and has implemented several additional layers of review.”

DMV data breach is a problem for illegal immigrants

The said data breach has very particular implications, especially tho illegal immigrants who were, in 2013, was promised that their social security information would not be disclosed to federal agencies. 

Six years ago, state lawmakers made the decision to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants as long as they can provide proof of identity and residency in California. This comes with the promise that the information of the driver’s license holders will not be shared with federal immigration officials. 

With the data breach that was discovered by California DMV this month, it is possible that the data of illegal immigrants who were given driver’s licenses could have been exposed to law enforcement; especially that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is one of the agencies that had access to the information.

California DMV officials said that the leaked information includes whether a person has a social security card or whether or not they are eligible to get a social security card.  

At least 88 individuals without proof of legal who have applied for AB 60 licenses in the agency have had their information exposed in the breach. Out of them, six people have had their data accessed by Homeland Security. 

“There are presently over 1 million people who have successfully and safely obtained an AB 60 driver’s license in our state,” said Layla Razavi, policy director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. “If you are not one of the … individuals who received this notice from the DMV, then you were not impacted by an unauthorized disclosure.”

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