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$2M settlement offered in Minnesota data snooping case

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A $2 million settlement was proposed Thursday in a Minnesota data snooping case, the Star Tribune reports.

The settlement was presented by an insurance trust representing several counties in federal court and still needs to be approved by a federal judge.

The case stems from the alleged actions of a child support officer in Rock County, who was accused of making more than 4,000 queries of the Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS) database in 2010 and 2011.

The employee was fired as several law firms sued on behalf of about 3,000 people who received data breach letters from the state, the paper reports. The person will not be prosecuted criminally.

The database -- which includes photographs, addresses and driving records on state residents with a driver's license -- is protected by federal law.

According to the lawsuit, the subjects whose information was snooped will receive a share of the settlement dollars "based on the number of times they were illegitimately searched."

The plaintiffs are trying to get the case certified as class action suit. If so, the size of the class action suit would be 2,400 people, resulting in an average award of about $300. The size of the award would vary on how often the class action member's records were snooped.

The drivers license snooping controversy has also involved some high-profile citizens in the state, including KSTP-TV anchor Jessica Miles, who claims her information was snooped nearly 1,400 times; and KSTP reporter Beth McDonough who claims her information was illegally looked up nearly 500 times.

The Insurance Journal says federal laws governing license data privacy set minimum damages for misuse at $2,500 per breach, an amount that does not include attorney's fees.

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