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Federal Judge Drops Info Selling Suit Against DOT

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MADISON (WRN) - A federal judge has dropped a lawsuit accusing the state Transportation Department of breaking the law when it sold drivers’ information to a data collection firm. 3 Madison area women sued DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi and 11 other state officials in June. The women said the state violated their civil rights by selling their data to a Texas company, and broke the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. Federal Judge Barbara Crabb said the women were really challenging the state’s policies – and not the way the officials carried them out – and therefore the state government is legally protected under its sovereign immunity. Also, she said the DOT did not violate the women’s civil rights because the law includes a mechanism for relief. Those who want to buy the state’s driver information must say why – and the use must be among those specifically listed in the law. The buyers are also told it’s against federal law to misuse the data. DOT attorney Mike Kernats said the U.S. Justice Department knows about Wisconsin’s procedures and has never objected. The plaintiff’s lawyer was not sure if he’d appeal Judge Crabb’s ruling.

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