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Six DVS workers accessed driver, vehicle data without authorization

Authorities said the acts don't appear to have been for '"nefarious" purposes.

Six workers at two Minnesota motor vehicle deputy registrar officers were found to have improperly accessed driver and vehicle data.

This "unauthorized access" was uncovered by the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division (DPS-DVS), after incidents at the two motor vehicle title and registration offices led to audits, the agency said Wednesday. All of the individuals in question (one of whom is now a former employee) are permanently barred from accessing driver and vehicle data, a step required by Minnesota law, DPS said in an announcement.

On May 4 at the North Mankato deputy registrar office, an employee there ran a self-search, which is prohibited. That led to an audit, in which DPS-DVS found four other users accessed data "without a lawful business purpose," which is also against the law. Three employees there have permanently lost access to this system. A fourth, who no longer works at the office, also had their permissions revoked.

The other audit happened at the Fairfax deputy registrar office, after DPS-DVS "became aware" of one of the location's two employees using their coworker's access credentials. The ensuing audit found seven instances of unauthorized DVS data access. Both employees' access was revoked. 

Doug Neville, deputy director in the Office of Communications at DPS, said there is no indication the offending workers "were using their access for identity theft or any similar nefarious purpose." However, as is required under the law, the information was sent to local county attorneys to review for possible criminal charges.

DPS-DVS sent letters (which were provided to Bring Me The News) to the six individuals in question, laying out the unauthorized access that was uncovered, as well as their loss of access effective July 20, 2021. Most look-ups involved what appeared to be VIN numbers of vehicles, belonging either to themselves or other individuals with whom they shared a last name. 

According to DPS, state law requires anyone found to have inappropriately accessed DVS data to "immediately and permanently" lose those permissions. It does not, however, require them to be reassigned or fired. That decisions is instead left with their employer. If they do retain their job, they simply won't have access to the DVS data, which could make some tasks difficult.

The Fairfax deputy registrar office will be closed for the time-being, as that location only had two employees — both of whom can no longer access DVS data. DPS says new employees will need to be hired and trained before operations there restart. whether there will be an impact on service at the North Mankato office is unknown at this point.

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