back to article DVLA makes £44m flogging drivers' details

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has sold more than 18 million names and addresses of drivers since it started the trade five years ago. Most of the names go to clamping companies and other private parking firms, although the DVLA was keen to stress to us today that it does not make a profit from the trade. It also said …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    .."or to someone who has reasonable cause to request it such as someone who has suffered material loss or injury. ....."

    So they vet them all do they?

    Do NCP et al have to PROVE that the person parked against the rules of the site?

    Or could Dave "the Stalker" Smith of Daves Clamping firm get the details because she had huge tits and a great arse and wouldn't mind have a peek through the cutains at night.

    I think a request for the later is just as easy to get as the former.

    1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      You don't understand..

      .. it appears that "having great t*ts" may be enough "reasonable cause".

      The whole point of that phrase is that it's so vague they'll never fall foul of a violation. For all you know, the baseline "reasonable cause" is "can pay £2.50".

      It is a scam with personal data, clear and simple. The rest is camouflage.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      "reasonable cause"?

      I've noticed quite a few "text a registration to this number and we'll tell you all about the car it's stuck on" services being punted recently.

      Hmm, make, model and year from a registration number? I wonder where that information comes from (originally)?

      Apparently "I run a premium rate text message service and I want to make some cash" is "reasonable cause" these days.

  2. Dazed and Confused

    Open to abuse

    So if I find a nice car regularly parked some where quite legal, I can call up the DVLA claim to be a clamping firm get the owners details and go round a burgle the place while I'm fairly sure they are out.

    Nice one.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    It must be possible to 'opt out' of your personal data being shared with third parties for commercial purposes (and this includes parking / clamping enforcement) under the data protection act..?

    1. xyz


      Not a chance. I asked the info comm about this and basically got the brush off. There is a way of doing it but it's "secret" and you need special reasons (whatever they turn out to be).

      Does anyone know any IT contractors working there?

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


      Yes - just become an MP. Also works if you don't want your kids medical records to be shared by everyone at the local council.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Second class citizens in their own country

    So someone wants MY data for THEIR interests and DVLA gives it to them for a small fee. If the principle is sound, then I want Gordon Browns banks statements. I want HIS data for MY interests.

    All men are created equal, but parking companies out rank citizens. The parking attendant gets your home address, you don't get his. DVLA will sell your data to people on their claim with no way to check the claim, and no notification to you, so no opportunity to block the release of your private data.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah.... right!

    Let's be honest - if someone somewhere along the line wasn't getting a 'drink' out of this, the DVLA just wouldn't be doing it ! When did ANY govt dept EVER do more than the minimum it was required to do, unless there was an earner in it?

    Funny how the DVLA can find resources to do this sort of thing, but take an age with proper queries from their REAL customers.

    It's just another little fiddle with what SHOULD be 100% privileged information, courtesy of the thieves, fraudsters and assorted scam artists that now run RIPUK Plc....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bunch of theving bastards....

    “The DVLA charges £2.50 per address, and the most common request is from private parking companies pursuing people for payments.”

    DVLA selling this info to private car parks in itself breaks the rules they set out themselves.

    In my experience as a campaigner for fair play for motorists, most of these private car parking companies operate illegally. They issue so called “parking fines” where they have no right to. All they can do is to issue the driver of the car an invoice for parking. Most of them make the parking invoices look like official penalty charge notices as issued by a traffic warden. This is highly illegal. As set out in section 40 parts c and d of the administration of justice act 1970

    The Administration of Justice Act 1970.

    Section 40 of the act provides that a person commits an offence if, with the object of coercing another person to pay money claimed from the other as a debt due under contract, he or she:

    (c) falsely represent themselves to be authorised in some official capacity to claim or enforce payment;

    (d) utters a document falsely represented by him to have some official character or purporting to have some official character which he knows it has not.

    As the car parking companies are trying to gain the details of the registered keeper of the car to collect payment on a invoice, as the registered keeper may not be the driver of the car at the time the parking invoice was issued, and the registered keeper of the car is under no obligation to tell the private parking company the identity of the driver at the time (please note, this is not the case for official penalty charge notices issued by a traffic warden)

    On The form the car park owner has to fill in to gain the information of the registered keeper, they have to state that the registered keeper is the person who owes the money. As this is not the case, they are telling lies on the form and gaining the information by false pretences. DVLA have been informed of this practice and the illegal nature of some of the private car parking companies, but they don’t ever respond, just keep on collecting the £2.50 per enquiry.

    My advice to anyone who gets a private car parking ticket (read: invoice) is to throw it in the bin... do not respond to any letter they send, no matter how threatening it gets. They will not take you to court for a county court judgement, they would lose.

    See for more info.

    it could be argued that DVLA in continuing to collect money from these companies, knowing that they are acting illegally, are themselves committing a crime of money laundering and conspiracy to obtain money by deception... i would love to see that one in court.

    1. Francis Fish

      I just didn't pay and complained to the DVLA

      Haven't been pursued for the money, they work on people's fear.

      DVLA's reply was just a "we can and we will sell your details". But as for them actually being part of what is essentially a con, well, remarkably quiet.

    2. Chris007
      FAIL is no longer

      It appears that the owners forgot to re-register the domain and it is now parked.

      You might want to let them know :-)

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Give me access to the data

    and I'll supply the names for £1.50 each, thus lowering the cost to those requesting the data and improving efficiency because staff at the DVLA wont need to waste their time processing the requests.

    I also promise not to make a profit or use the data for any other reasons..........

    1. Eddie Edwards
      Thumb Up

      Well ...

      For the region of £45m you could BUY the database.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Dodgy is too flattering a term for some of the people the DVLA will sell your details to, at the drop of a hat. I've had threatening letters misquoting the law (and even mentioning going to prison!) simply because the DVLA happily sold my name and address to some awful private car park firm. Totally unacceptable, the only people who should have access to this information is the police.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    £2.50 simply covers the cost of processing requests.

    airborne bacon?

    If the castrol signs could get a reult realtime then it is simply an automated database lookup. How on earth can that cost £2.50

    Oh yeah its gubermunt IT

    1. steogede

      Re: £2.50 simply covers the cost...

      >> airborne bacon?


      >> If the castrol signs could get a reult realtime then it is simply an automated database lookup.

      >> How on earth can that cost £2.50

      The bit about Castrol was just the author being misleading, it is a completely separate issue. Castrol bought the details of the vehicles, not the registered keepers. The details of the vehicle are entirely free from data protection control. Data protection only protects personal details and cars are not people. The data Castrol used only contains a list of reg. numbers and the corresponding make, model, manufacture and colour.

      The thing that amazes me is that they can do all the checks required to ensure that the enquiry is legitimate for a mere £2.50, yet a simple re-issue of a lost licence costs £20, Perhaps if they upped the price a little they could afford to do a more thorough check on the request(or), and it might put off some of the more bogus requests.

  10. Lewis Paragraph


    That's the data for almost a third of the UK population has been sold off, or there's one or two prolific parking offenders out there.

  11. MechaNikos
    Thumb Down

    So much for the DPA 1998

    I was under the impression that the first key principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 was:

    "Data may only be used for the specific purposes for which it was collected."

    How long until we have Acxiom-like cases in Europe?

    1. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      @"Data may only be used for the specific purposes for which it was collected."

      I agree MechaNikos, but what if a government stated goal is added to say they use the data collected, as another way to make the government money. From that perspective, as their purpose is then to earn money from it, then they conform to "used for the specific purposes". Of course its gaming the system, but from a legal point of view, the letter of the law is upheld.

      Politicians like leaving laws open ended, as it gives them more power. But their actions when applying the law show they have no moral ethics at all. They show if they can twist the law to do what they want, they will go ahead and let no one stand in their way. Empathy for us all doesn't come into it. After all, its the law. (But then they also choose what to consider is the law). :(

      So the next question becomes where does it stop?. I.e. how much more data do they want from us, to sell for their profit?

      Here's a business idea for the government ... how about the government moves to collect all our data on us, instead of allowing companies like Google, Facebook, etc.. and then the government can sell all our data to any company that wants our data. That would be a huge earner for the government and a logical next step for the government's current position on how they treat our data!. :(

  12. zaax

    Put fence up - simples

    Why does government departments talk so much rubbish?

    If you don't want someone on your land put a fence around it or put a gate up.

    1. Chris Pearson


      but then how do you make £50 a go illegally fining people?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cheap tart

        Only £50? I suggest you read those signs again, I've not seen one under £75 for a while now and most are in the region of £120 with dire warnings that the payment must be in cash or the fee will increase at some rate that makes a banker's bonus look positively cheap.

    2. Martin 19

      Disclaimer: I frigging hate 'parking enforcement companies'

      It's not always possible to 'put a gate up', especially if you have a car park, forecourt etc. Without this system, people could take the piss and park for weeks on end across a shop/factory/whatever front door.

      The unfortunate truth is that the system is being abused, at the very least by some retailers/parking firms saying "Somebody's parked here for 2:04, and we only allow 2 hours! Send a goddamn bill!". It is true, as someone above has pointed out, that if you get one of these bills all you need to do is write back saying "I don't know who was driving, it wasn't me, prove who it was" and they don't have a leg to stand on. The gov't can demand to know who the driver was, private firms cannot. If however they have clamped or impounded your car then you have problems.

      There are even some empty patches of land close to Birmingham centre where the owners make a killing by parking a couple of their own cars, waiting for unsuspecting visitors to park there and then clamping the lot. Beware!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        well cover me in chocolate and toss me to the lesbians.....

        The unfortunate truth is that the system is being abused, at the very least by some retailers/parking firms saying "Somebody's parked here for 2:04, and we only allow 2 hours! Send a goddamn bill!"

        Our doctors surgery have a mob in to monitor the car park, if your wheel is half way over the lines... ticket..... i popped in to pick up a prescription... i came out and the wife was arguing with the guy who wanted to put a ticket on the car as she was waiting outside the door for me and not in a parking bay... she wasn’t blocking anything or causing an obstruction....

        i told the guy on no uncertain terms that it would not be a good idea to say another word or he would find himself in serious trouble.... he replied "are you threatening me"....

        i went on to tell him that the ticket he had in his hand, that says "penalty charge notice" is not a pcn at all, and that it was a invoice, and that what he was doing was illegal, even the company he was working for, PARKING FINES LTD, the name in relation to the job he was doing was in breach of section 40 of the admin of justice act..

        He went away.....

        i also complained to companies house about the name of the company in relation the business they were in was in breach of section 40 of the admin of justice act, they did not even reply. Trading standards are not interested, the doctors were not interested and passed the buck to the nhs trust as it was them who owned the land and contract the thieving bastards...

        i feel sorry for all the old people and people who fear the threats they make and just pay them to make them go away... they are no better than the scum bags who go around clubbing grannies for the pension money...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >The DVLA also made clear it does not profit from the sales - £2.50 simply covers the cost of processing requests.

    43.9 million over 5 years, assuming a 24/7 coverage works out at 1000 GBP per hour.

    Let's be really generous and say that a data entry operative (DEO) enters one number plate per minute that's 1440 plates per day. To cover the 9800 plates requested daily will need 6.8 people, so let's be more generous and say 10. That means the DEO gets 100 GBP per hour because the remaining costs of the processing and bulk mailing will be minimal..

    Either that or they have 100 staff going really slow and earning 10 GBP per hour or they are making a profit.

    I know which I think it is.

    Wait, I've just realised where the cost comes from, they have a dedicated BOFH to keep the printers in toner, probably from his own distribution depot.

  14. Eponymous Cowherd
    Big Brother

    Big deal!

    ***"The DVLA also made clear it does not profit from the sales - £2.50 simply covers the cost of processing requests."***

    So what? They are still giving your personal details away to what amount to legalised racketeers.

    Anyone still wondering why this cash-strapped Government are refusing to scrap the twin white elephants of ID cards and the NIR? Could it be that they expect to make more money out of it, by selling our personal details, that it costs?

    Big Brother. He's in it for the money.

  15. Garve Scott-Lodge

    If they don't make a profit...'s entirely through incompetence.

    The majority of the data requests by parking companies are now electronic, so no data entry operative needed. They ought to be able to make £2.49 profit on each transaction.

    You are not able to 'opt-out' of this. The DVLA have been asked many times, but have refused.

    See for lots of informed comment on this.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why are you worried

    I can think of several companies who make a fortune out of selling your personal data to any one and every one, they have been doing it for years.

    Personally I like the Swiss idea of making car number plates available on-line so that I can personally tell the tits in BMWs that cut me up what I think of them, more probably their fleet manager though.

    Oh wait I have a day job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ why areyou worried?

      You are so wrong - it's Audis these days.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    Until the police or NHS start selling your DNA profile.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      dont wait too long....

      you think the hns dont already? you can buy medical records for less than £1 per record in india...

  18. Valerion

    It is awful, however...

    My wife got a "parking ticket" the other day for the heinous offence of forgetting to display her permit in a small pub car park that she parks in every day.

    Obviously I have no intention of responding to them, but so far they have wasted money on sending people to the car park, and will possibly waste money on the DVLA as well getting MY name and address (not my wife's name - the car is registered to me). I know enough to ignore it. It is an invoice, not a fine, and I did not enter into a contract with them so they cannot pursue me for anything. And if they did all they could claim in law is the cost of any loss. As my wife has a permit there is no monetary loss.

    If the word gets out enough and people refuse to be bullied then these firms will eventually go out of business. In fact I'd like the DVLA to help them by putting up charges to £10 a time. Then they'll make a profit, too!

  19. kingwahwah

    If your details are given out complain to DLVA

    I sold a car in 04. Two days later the new owner got a private parking ticket.

    When I got a letter from some small private firm demanding £60 I was shocked. How did they get my details? When they told me I complained by email to DVLA who by law have to respond (hopefully losing the £2.50 earned). DVLA repsonded a week later.

    If I remember right there a clause in the data protection act to allow DVLA to do this!

    I told private firm to go forth and multiply which worked. This apparently you can do with any private firm.

    I am disgusted with the Government over this. What next will they be opening up the database to eastern european countries in the fight against terrorism....

  20. OldBiddie


    Why everyone should be against the all-seeing National Identity Register ID Card database

    The data in there couldn't *possibly* be abused for financial gain.

  21. tomRR

    You just have to call them and ask...

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Let's be clear

    Car parking companies do it because their payoff is 99% certain and their overheads are virtually zero.

    99% of their victims wise up. Company has to prove *who* was driving, have *no* legal right to ask you who was driving (if it was not you). From previous posters it is a variation on the "Pro-forma invoice" mail scam.

    Revenue drops *sharply*. Most of these jokers will return to their former (no doubt equally dubious) line of work. Loan sharking and dealing drugs to school kids sounds about right.

    The UK Government should make up its mind. Either set up a *properly* regulated legal framework or scrap *private* parking enforcement entirely.

    BTW I believe this sort of thing is ilegal in Scotland where a judge called it "Legalised highway robbery."

  23. Anonymous Coward


    I am moving house soon and must remember to forget to inform DVLA.

    I know I am supposed to keep them informed but my personal data is also supposed to be protected and was given in good faith..and I value that far more.

    Pirates...because we live outside the law...aaargh!

  24. WhoIsThis?
    Thumb Down

    Cost of getting your own details under the DPA = £5!

    How can a company get my details for £2.50, when it costs me £5 to get my data from the DVLA under a Data Protection Act request?

    A DPA request charge has to be only enough to cover the cost of providing the data. So how can it cost more than giving my data to a company?

    Note: I have just updated my licence and the £5 fee is mentioned in leaflet INS57P that comes with the licence.

  25. ShaggyDoggy

    @ MinionZero

    "what if a government stated goal is added to say they use the data collected, as another way to make the government money"

    They would need to declare that purpose at the time of collection of the data i.e. on the form you fill in/webpage you type into. They can not add it in retrospectively.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    I really don't understand what the whinging is all about!

    If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear! Surely!

    If you have parked illegally then you should expect to have to pay for it? If you are put to some effort to deal with the problem then that also is part of the penalty, surely?

    Yes, there may be a few chancers out there who will request address details for neferious purposes but when the consequences of their actions are set against the greater good derived from assuring proper responsibility by the public then it is a balance and a price worth paying.

    Companies House charge for company records so what is the difference between a company and an individual? The electoral register can be purchased?

    All data collected by the Government should be made available, without exception, be it on companies or individuals.

    Please note, I offer the above to be contentious and not because I believe it is, necessarily, right to reveal all. However, you may be sure that if it was the Law that "all" Government information be released then they would be collecting a lot less of it and the costs of Government (& Government IT?) might then go down.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @ AC....

      "If you have parked illegally then you should expect to have to pay for it?"

      that is the point... on a private car park, if you break the rules of the car park it is breach of contract not ilegal...

      if you go to your local supermarket, and park anywhere outside of a parking bay then some muppet puts a sticker on your screen. for the shops and car park wardens its all added income. its nothing at all about being fair....

      "but when the consequences of their actions are set against the greater good derived from assuring proper responsibility by the public then it is a balance and a price worth paying."

      there is no greater good, its highway robbery... its just lining the pockets of thives.

      mines the one with the empty pockets because of all the robbing bastards around !!

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Perhaps grounds for a complaint to the ICO

    It's £5 for a DPA request, £2.50 for a "parking enforcement notice" request yet aren't both *only* meant to cover the cost of processing?

  28. EvilGav 1

    @ Scotland

    Yes, quite right, all of this nonsense about private parking fines and private clamping is illegal in Scotland, partly due to there being no Trespass law in Scotland, but mostly due to a judge declaring it illegal.

    The police have even issued a statement (a few years ago) that stated (paraphrase) : "if you are clamped by someone that isn't the police, let us know, we'll come round and remove it for you".

    As to the story, what about the company that texts you the value of a car from it's number plate ? Presumably that data (the make/model/mileage from MOT etc) comes from the DVLA, how is that anything other than a commercial transaction ?

  29. Simon B

    44 million not profit? FK off

    the DVLA was keen to stress to us today that it does not make a profit from the trade. SO WTF HAVE they done with 44 million pounds!!! We certainly donlt see any of it as they charge you an arm or a leg to apply for a licence, have points removed etc etc.

    I really want to know WHERE the 44 million pounds went!

  30. David Robinson 2

    no surprise!

    Don't you all understand that this is just a part of the government's campaign to get you off the road and into the RMT and others 'public' transport. The unions and the greens want value for the money they give the labour party. Most of the rubbish we have had to put up with in the last 12 years comes from the team lead by Professor Begg who has offices coyrtesy of the RMT.


  31. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Parking problem

    So... they have 18,00,000 records. 44mil at 4.250 is 17,600,000 requests, and they say it mostly goes to parking and clamping companies. You brits must have a hell of parking problem.

  32. Anonymous Coward


    Why doesn't someone - who knows how - start an online petition about this so we can all sign it.

    Just tell us how to get to it

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