Former police officer Anne Marie Rasmusson is about to file a lawsuit alleging that her drivers license record was illegally accessed hundreds of times by other law enforcers in Minnesota. Who else are the police illegally looking up and how can they be held accountable?
The Twin Cities alt-weekly, City Pages, tells Ramusson's tale. The retired cop lost a lot of weight and started pumping iron. One day at the gym she found out her driver's profile was being searched by officers all over the area when she overheard cops at the gym gossiping about what she used to look like. The police have access to everybody's records, but when they look you up, it leaves a digital trail. So Ramusson looked into it, and the "The numbers were astounding," City Pages writes:
One hundred and four officers in 18 different agencies from around the state had accessed her driver's license record 425 times in what could be one of the largest private data breaches by law enforcement in history.
If Ramusson wins her suit and the officers are found guilty of violating her privacy by looking her up without a good reason, they could all be fired.
If this story creeps you out, you're right. It totally makes sense that the cops and other law enforcement agencies can look up your record during a traffic stop or for other official reasons. But there really aren't enough safe guards in place to make sure that officers aren't using the database of drivers licenses as a personal Facebook.
What's worse is we don't know to what extent this is happening. Ramusson only found out about the illegal searches because she used to be a cop. But in all likelihood these searches are probably happening everywhere. [City Pages]