back to article DVLA: A licence to bill

Why worry about the government losing your data, when for a small fee they’ll cheerfully hand it over to criminals and big business anyway? The question of when, how and to whom the DVLA ought to pass out your personal data is one that has surfaced at regular intervals, ever since the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing …

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  1. Jeff Fox
    Coat

    Been happening for years

    I got one of these 'fines' a couple of years ago for parking in an Aldi car park. This arrived (and was opened by my wife) while I was overseas on business and caused an immense amount of hassle for something which could have easily been checked and dismissed in moments. The problem is that these companies only have an interest in making money through sending out fines, anything else (such as checking the facts) is a cost.

    Yet another example of the government selling our data without our permission and it should be stopped.

  2. Alexis Vallance
    Thumb Down

    Never pay private parking companies

    It's criminal. Basically, any private parking company can buy your details from the DVLA for £2.50 and then bombard the registered keeper with threatening letters, full of lies and intimidation.

    This is despite any alleged contract being with the driver at the time, not necessarily the keeper, and the fact that these 'fines' are merely unenforceable invoices with no legal basis.

    The DVLA will send you their standard template letter if you complain, in the same way these private companies send you a template 'appeal rejected' letter if you're silly enough to contact them.

  3. Martin
    Happy

    AFAIK all of these 'private' parking fines are unenforcable

    as unlike the government, private individuals/companies have NO right to fine the *owner* of a vehicle for something the vehicle was involved in. Any action must be taken against the DRIVER at the time of the alleged incident. Also unlike the government, they have no right to demand to know who was driving; that is up to them to prove.

    If you recieve anything like this (eg a 'fine' for overstaying in a supermarket car park) just write back saying "prove who was driving".

    Of course if your vehicle has actually been clamped or towed away all bets are off, and you will likely have to pay to get your car back.

  4. Thom Brown
    Alert

    Helping theives?

    Doesn't this also open up issues with car/bike/van thieves noting down the registration numbers of valuable vehicles they see on the road and then, with a £2.50 donation to the DVLA, locate the residence of the owner and organise its theft or sell the details on?

  5. Tezfair
    Stop

    Boycott them

    Don't think I will visit any more Moto services if thats the way your treated

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DVLA are C*nts

    we should just get rid of them, stop driving cars and make all the people who have ever worked for the DVLA drag rickshaws where we can whip them into getting us from A to B.

    Oh, and in light of things, the above is of course satire, or is it. And of course the 'or is it' is also satire. Paradoxical satire, the last bastion of free speech.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a privacy violation

    1. It's not their data to hand out, they are entrusted with it.

    2. Parking is a civil matter, both parties are equal in a civil matter, it is not for the DVLA to take sides.

    3. It does not matter if they think the parking company is proper and upstanding. It is irrelevant. They do even check if the victim is proper and upstanding, yet both parties are equal in a civil dispute.

    4. Only the UK charges people for parking in motorway service stations. Thanks to NuLabour for making it possible with this change of law.

    5. Politicians hide their number plates, why? What's so special about them? Why do they have that right and not me?

    6. It's MY FOOKING DATA AND YOU HAVE A LEGAL OBLIGATION NOT TO HAND IT OUT YOU MINDLESS FOOKING MORONS..... erm excuse my rant.... perhaps I can phrase it better.

    7. Suppose the Inland Revenue sold my tax data to marketing firms.

    8. Suppose my bank sold my account details to debt collecting firms or retailers.

    9. Suppose my doctor sold my medical records to health insurance firms.

    Why do they think they can get away with a clear violation of my privacy right? The money is unimportant, they have a duty to protect my private data, it's written into the law, would THEY STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND COMPLY WITH THE FOOKING LAW PLEASE?!....

    Ahh, sorry there I go again getting angry.

    What we need is open source ANPR, we monitor and track and publish the details of all politicians and their families on a public website. A million volunteers with webcams pointing at the street feeding this website, then perhaps they'll understand why people are entitled to privacy.

  8. Gareth Saunders

    Only following orders...

    "rebuttals from the DVLA and Department for Transport to the effect that they are only following the law"

    I think we heard a similar defence at Nuremburg...

  9. David

    Re: Helping thieves

    Perhaps, but there is at least a paper trail of who asked for the information.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I've said it before...

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=show+plates

    Use your imaginations as to how criminals, unscrupulous parking "fine" firms, decent privacy-minded people, any legion other evildoers can use that sort of thing.

    I'm only joking... Honest!!!

  11. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @Only Following Orders

    Ah, Mr Godwin, welcome back. We've missed you.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Sad but true...

    When a parking fine is issued, it is to the owner of the vehicle not the driver. It's up to the owner to prove otherwise. If you are parked on private property and you do so either without permission or by overstaying a posted period, you are trespassing. Trespass is a tort - a civil offence - so the Police cannot be involved. Because you are trespassing, the owner (or their 'representatives') can take your vehicle and demand a payment to hand it back and the car could be damaged so long as it is not excessive and was caused while the property owner was moving it out of the way. So, basically, you are screwed. Public parking is decriminalised and therefore a civil matter and parking authorities (or whichever company has the business) issue fines according to the law. There is a set procedure to handling fines, including the fine, and by challenging the authority, you have a chance that they will cancel the fine. This will never happen with private firms on private property. Moral of story - if you are going to park illegally, do it on public property and challenge- you might get lucky.

    BTW - @It's a privacy violation - we do try to protect your information and in most cases this is what happens. However, even with the best protection that can be used, it only takes one fucking prick to leave stuff lying around and wahey - more personal data gets lost. And yes - I work in the public sector so AC for a reason.

  13. Dave

    hahahaha

    I had one of these so called "fines" so I ignored it, got "debt collection agency" letters. Funnily enough the debt collection agency was registered at the same address as the parking ticket company...ignored that and that was ooooooo a year ago now?

    They know what there doing can't be enforced that's why I never heard anything back but in most cases people pay up because there scared of the court action and debt collectors they threaten with.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nature of the contract.

    "When a parking fine is issued, it is to the owner of the vehicle not the driver."

    That is true of the fines issued by the authorities, and absent a signed acceptance of responsibility by the actual driver (as required by hire firms and before the loan of courtesy cars), the authorities can make the fine stick.

    It's possible to argue that the "implied contract" upon which the enforcement of private parking penalties relies can only be with the driver (or at least occupants) of the car at the time, since the "tort" is trespass.

    Also, there's no trespass if the trespasser a) does no harm and b) leaves when requested to do so. If someone's asleep in their car, they can be asked to leave. If the parking attendants just snuck a ticket under a windscreen wiper, they tacitly accepted that the person was not committing trespass, since they did not ask them to desist. You cannot fine me, or do *anything* to me for walking on a "no trespassing" place, unless I refuse to depart, or unless I cause damage.

    IANAL... but that's how a lawyer explained it to me. Maybe the law's changed, specifically to allow these criminals to operate. Lobby against it if that's the case.

  15. Rob
    Joke

    @ Ed Blackshaw

    Silence, schweinhund!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Council parking vs private scamming

    "When a parking fine is issued, it is to the owner of the vehicle not the driver. It's up to the owner to prove otherwise."

    Nope. You're thinking of the councils right to issue parking tickets for public land which doesn't extend to private persons or companies for private land.

    "So, basically, you are screwed. Public parking is decriminalised and therefore a civil matter and parking authorities (or whichever company has the business) issue fines according to the law."

    Nope, it's not a law, again you're blurring the councils right under the law with a private contract claimed by the parking company.

    "There is a set procedure to handling fines, including the fine, and by challenging the authority, you have a chance that they will cancel the fine. This will never happen with private firms on private property."

    Again no, there is no "FINE", it's a civil breach of a pseudo contract you claim I accepted when I parked on land you claim as yours.

    "Moral of story - if you are going to park illegally, do it on public property and challenge- you might get lucky."

    Illegally? Again no, the person parked at a motorway service station at 1am which is free and expected it would be free while they rested. The parking company claims a contract is formed by a sign at the station setting a time limit and 'fine'.

    This does not excuse the DVLA releasing data it it required to retain as private data under the Privacy right. It is a civil matter and the DVLA is in the wrong.

    "BTW - @It's a privacy violation - we do try to protect your information and in most cases this is what happens. However, even with the best protection that can be used, it only takes one fucking prick to leave stuff lying around and wahey - more personal data gets lost. And yes - I work in the public sector so AC for a reason."

    It's a violation of my right to privacy.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Hello

    "Why Hello DVLA I am calling from Nigerian International Parking Associates and we would like to purchase access to your data. Yes we run parking in your country and many other countrys. Yes we will not use the data for any bad purpose. Why I am offended by your implication, is it becouse we are Nigerian? Well okay, I shall expect our username and password before the end of the day."

    DVLA should only use the data to certify your paying your tax and confirm that to insurance companies, beyond that it shouldn't go anywhere. Pigs and renta pigs should do their own ground work - and if they need data from the DVLA systems they should have a damn warrant.

    That's exciting, I recon someone should do it, then make a mint off all the details in the database.

  18. David

    Debt collector

    Re, hahahaha, by Dave.

    I had exactly the same thing. So-called debt collection agency at the same address. Wouldn`t be Civil Enforcement Ltd; by any chance, would it? Ignore them long enough and they seem to go away. I`ve moved house since, anyway! They can whistle for it!

    By the way, why is the DVLC exempt from the 1998 Protection Act? Certainly seems that way.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the other point?

    It is now "dangerous driving" to drive whilst tired. The service areas were put there for a reason and that was one of them. They are not supposed to be camping grounds but they are the only refuge in times of need as you would be commiting a serious offence by driving further.

    This practice should be outlawed now but this government is worse than useless, besides the fine is much bigger if the motorist gets caught driving whist tired or in the crash barrier or over the hard shoulder - prison! so they have a vested interest.

    Meanwhile it is a service area I will never spend more than a penny in.

  20. TimM

    Which is better...

    ... protecting your privacy, or making sure you don't get ripped off when buying a car?

    After all, that is (what this current fuss has failed to stress) what these £2.50 charges were intended for. i.e. so you can check the current owner and legal status of the car you intend to buy.

    What's needed is some regulation to ensure that only potential buyers and the police have access to this information, not private parking companies.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't resist.

    DVLA - All your files are belong to us.

  22. RogueElement

    Despicable Vacuous Labyrinth of Apathy

    [quote] This is primarily a matter for DVLA … If there is appropriate evidence that DVLA has provided vehicle keepers’ details without good cause, we will take the issue up with them, as we have done in the past [/quote]

    Eh? Shirley Shome Mishtake here.... this is a matter for the police and the courts. If there is appropriate evidence that DVLA has [broken the data protection act 1988] without good cause then there are a few senior managers who desperately need to enjoy the wonderful services of Her Majesty's Prison Service.

  23. Bill Cumming
    Go

    The only enforceable fines..

    are issued by the police.

    All others are civil matters and you can get out of paying them if you're a stubborn git....

    http://www.pepipoo.com/

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    B(f)uck the system?

    I used to work in motor insurance, one of the major headaches in tracing third uninsured third parties where those that had deliberately mis-registered the offending vehicle to a 'friends' or non-existant address.

    There's no central mechanism for checking if the V5 information has been completed with legitimate information.

    Time to play 'em at there own game?

  25. John Murgatroyd

    Tickets. Parking etc

    " ONLY THE DRIVER AND THE OWNER OF THE LAND ARE A PARTY TO THE CONTRACT UNLESS THE PARKING COMPANY ACTS AS THEIR AGENT

    Therefore should you receive an INVOICE from a PPC as the keeper of a vehicle and you do not know who was driving, I suggest you tell them this and tell them not to contact you again. You are under no obligation whatsoever to provide any information to the PPC. Refuse to do so"

    http://www.ticketfighter.co.uk/private.htm

  26. radian
    Coat

    just a thought...

    Can't the woman who over slept in the car park do what BT did and play the 'no criminal intent' card?

  27. Gary

    Tear 'em up!!!

    Thsi happened to me many yearsd gao when I had a letter from the cowboy council in a nearby town. (South Wales is as good a location as it gets!!) It joined several other like minded ltters in the shredder. As I say, thi aws in the 80s.----- Gary

  28. Scott Silver badge
    Pirate

    Off Road

    If I am off the public highway, am I actually obliged to display my number plates?

  29. bbuckle
    Unhappy

    ICO

    Does the Information Commissioner ever do anything, about anything?

  30. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    IT Angle

    Re: Debt Collector

    "By the way, why is the DVLC exempt from the 1998 Protection Act? ..."

    Because government is above the law and anyone given work to do by the government inherits the legal immunity.

    "... Certainly seems that way."

    Indeed, which brings me to the IT angle. The government runs as root and it also runs all its daemons as root. To them, the phrase "least privileged" is a euphemism for voters, not a fundamental principle of good governance.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not about money

    This issue is not about whether or not the DVLA make money or not, it's about them selling on our personal details without our consent to any muppet that wants it for virtually nothing.

    This silly law needs to be repealed urgently.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Debt collector

    "Ignore them long enough and they seem to go away. I`ve moved house since, anyway! They can whistle for it!"

    The danger of moving house is that the debt collection company applies to a county court for a summons to be issued, which is sent to your old address. If that summons is not responded to, then by default a County Court Judgement is registered against you, and you won't even know about it, which will destroy your credit rating.

    In this scenario, you hope that the new residents at your old address return the letters back to the Court unopened, with words written on "Doesn't live here any more", then the summons is deemed not to have been issued and you won't end up with a CCJ against you.

    If the summons form is opened, or simply thrown away, and you don't return a defence back to the Court than you will lose the case.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disclosing who the driver is

    "Therefore should you receive an INVOICE from a PPC as the keeper of a vehicle and you do not know who was driving, I suggest you tell them this and tell them not to contact you again. You are under no obligation whatsoever to provide any information to the PPC. Refuse to do so""

    This is an interesting point, let's take this a stage further. You're dealing with a private company that issued ( or should have issued you) with an invoice, note, this is entirely a civil matter, so, the claim is that you've entered into a contract, and you've broken the terms of the contract by overstaying. So, they're sending you a penalty. If you tell them you don't know who was driving the car, how is the private company going to sue you to recover the fine/penalty?

    They could apply to a County Court for a summons to be issued, but in what name? They don't know who was driving. They can't address the summons just to a postal address. You can't sue a car, you can't sue a house, you sue an individual.

    So, if they don't know who was driving, they might try and put down the name of the vehicle's owner, in which case you submit a defence to the Court saying, "There is no contract between myself and the parking company as I didn't drive into their car park, so this summons is invalid."

    The judge will review the completed form containing the defendant's response and dismiss the case. It will be up to the car parking company to prove who was in that car at the time, the time the contract was formed.

    Now, if they've taken a photo of the number plate, the question is, is the picture good enough to identify the driver?

  34. Alexis Vallance
    Paris Hilton

    Moot

    Court problems are fairly moot. Out of hundreds of thousands of these fake fines given out every year, we see about 6 going to court. One was a no-show by the defendant, so he lost and the others were defended against and the parking companies were routed.

    Talking of naming the driver, the best one was in Oldham early this year. The judge asked how they knew the defendant was the driver and they replied with "We just do". The judge wasn't impressed.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If I am off the public highway, am I actually obliged to display my number plates?" - Scott

    Good question.

    So I plugged it into Google.

    This popped up:

    >"Drivers can ride on private land without these requirements [an appropriate licence,

    insurance and, where appropriate, a helmet*] as long as they have

    permission to be there."

    * The document is primarily focused on the use of mini-motos but deals with the requirements of vehicles when used on a public road vs private off-road.

    -Source: www.parliament.uk/commons/lib/research/rp2007/rp07-021.pdf

    Also:

    >"Obviously if the attendant cannot see the number plate, then ultimately the authority cannot take any enforcement action. It is, of course, a criminal offence to keep a vehicle on the road without displaying a registration mark. However, parking attendants do not have any powers to enforce criminal law and so if they wish to take the registration mark of a vehicle whose number plate has been obscured, they will need the assistance of the police to remove whatever it is that is obscuring the plate if they are to escape any liability for damage caused. I am instructed that in some cases, particularly in the case of motorbikes, tarpaulins are used to cover the whole vehicle and then a padlock is used to prevent removal. [...] I should make it clear, of course, that the Promoters have no objection to the use of motorcycle covers per se, particularly if the bike is not parked on the highway."

    -Source: Paragraph 47 at http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200607/ldselect/ldubcllatfl0506/evid/clla02.htm

    Furthermore, (and specific to private parking):

    >"...on private land, you don't need number plates.

    BUT - private land where the general public is allowed access without having to seek permission, such as car parks are very different. You have to display number plates and you can be fined by the police for motoring offences.

    The definition of a road in England and Wales is 'any highway and any other road to which the public has access and includes bridges over which a road passes'. In Scotland, there is a similar definition which is extended to include any way over which the public have a right of passage. It is important to note that references to 'road' therefore generally include footpaths, bridle-ways and cycle tracks and many roadways and driveways on private land (including many car parks). In most cases, the law will apply to them and there may be additional rules for particular paths or ways."

    -Source: "http://www.theanswerbank.co.uk/Motoring/Road-rules/Question315650.html"

    IANAL, but the short answer seems to be: Not advisable, but one option is to create a fake plate which will give rise to nonsensical info by the time they attempt to process the DVLA request and raise a fine - and you'll be on your way.

  36. Charles Smith
    Black Helicopters

    This is nothing new!

    I worked in IT in the DVLA (ex DVLC) in the 1970's helping to recover from the chaos of the consultant designed system.

    Even then it was possible for people with due cause to request, for a small fee, details of vehicle keeper's. This feature was a carry over from the earlier days when Vehicle records were administered by 240 county offices scattered around the country. In those dark days it was not unusual for police officers to sneak "behind the counter" and riffle through the card folders containing the vehicle records.

    Get a grip and stop whining.

  37. Peter Gold badge

    Actually, a clamping tip.

    OK guys, since you mentioned clamping as well, here's how I got out of a car clamp in London: I asked the clampers to identify themselves.

    For ANY company to claim they have the right to take your property hostage they will have to prove (a) that they are indeed acting on behalf of the landowner and (b) their identity as employee of said enacting company.

    The argument for this is simple: such companies ALWAYS insist on a non-traceable form of payment. No cheques or CC, cash only. This is perfection for a scammer: just throw a couple of clamps in the car, hike to the nearest place with people that can be misled into thinking they did wrong (hang your own sign if need be, plenty to unscrew in London) and start collecting. More rewards for those towing such cars away - we're all so conditioned by now that nobody will assume you're just nicking the vehicle if you stick a big sticker on the windscreen first. I'm waiting for this to become a crime wave of sufficient size to cause a clamp down (unintentional pun) on those jerks.

    OK, back to the story. The clamping goon naturally stated he was "authorised" so I asked him calmly to prove it. He couldn't, "but his mate could when he got back". I was at that point already talking to the police on my mobile (who advised me they wouldn't act, probably because that would mean effort, but the chimp in front of me didn't know that so I finished the conversation with "yes, of course, I'll ring you as soon as they have failed to identify themselves"). Chimp #2 arrived, no ID either, but "he'd ring the boss". Boss: "we are fully authorized", me: "yes, I'd say that too, but where's the proof?". Boss: "I'll get someone to you with proof in a hour", me: "Yeah, right, I'll give you time to print some fakes. You have two options. Either you tell these goons to unlock that clamp and get their IDs, or I'll personally walk them to the police station and you can go and collect them there in an hour with your paperwork".

    Boss took the sensible option.

    The only thing I haven't done yet is forming a key squad. There is a nice hole in UK law which states that if you manage to remove the clamp without damaging it they have an enforcement problem. A group of people who have followed the MIT paper on picking locks or who participate in championships such as at http://www.toool.nl/ can could create a nice bit of havoc for a clamping team. They can also not prevent you from taking it off (without resorting to violence which gets them in the slammer). And they won't get help from the police either.

    I would have had a little bit of understanding if these people actually did something useful. But ever since my late father in law got a ticket in front of the hospital when he got his cancer treatment they are off my Xmas list. And that ticket was never paid - they "cancelled" it after I wrote them two letters.

    The last one contained his death certificate.

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