Eighteen people in Minnesota filed a federal lawsuit yesterday alleging invasive searches of their driver's license information by government officials. The suit named 79 counties, municipalities and state agencies that they said looked up their information illegally more than 600 times, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The suit is one of about 20 filed so far in an escalating backlash against snooping by public employees into driver's license data.
A Star Tribune survey of major cities and counties and the insurers for smaller government bodies show the total number of inappropriate lookups being claimed surpasses 8,400 — not counting a Department of Natural Resources employee accused of thousands of inappropriate searches. The latest lawsuit alleged political retaliation. Plaintiffs contend that they were targeted because of their positions on local issues. The suit alleges Wabasha County authorities illegally accessed the state's driver's license database to look up information about the plaintiffs when they “took a side against the Wabasha County government — building a new county jail (2009-2010), negotiating union contracts (2011-2012), changing county government and personnel (2011-2012), creating a study commission (2012-2013), shutting down the county driver safety school (2013), etc.”