Is the DVLA Selling your Data to Rogue Parking Firms?

DVLA Selling your Data - Speedy Reg
DVLA Selling your Data – Speedy Reg

Have you ever had a parking fine even though you followed all the rules, bought a parking ticket and didn’t overstay? You’re not alone. Parking companies can buy your data from the DVLA for £2.50 and they are doing it in droves, issuing parking fines that many believe are not warranted.

An issue on the increase

In 2006 272,000 parking fines were issued by private firms using details they had bought from the DVLA. Fast-forward to a decade later and that number has increased 25 times! This brings in a whopping £17 million annually. It’s certainly a lucrative business. So is everyone suddenly not paying for parking tickets or staying too long in the car parks? It seems unlikely! Many people are receiving fines and simply paying them. The appeals process can be complicated and lengthy with no positive result guaranteed.

Is it legal for the DVLA to sell your data?

Despite the recently introduced new data rules of the General Data Protection Regulation, it seems the DVLA are still operating within the law when it comes to selling your data on to these parking firms. To access your data, the firms must be a member of an Approved Trade Association with a voluntary Code of Practice and they must have reasonable cause for getting your information, but there is no requirement to show any proof. So they can simply pick out your vehicle and claim you didn’t buy a parking ticket in their car park. That gives them the right to buy your details and consequently send out a fine that could be up to £100.

You agreed to this in the small print

The GDPR states that your information cannot be shared without your consent. The problem is, you did give your consent, even though you may not realise it. When you registered your vehicle with the DVLA, in the small print of the V5 form you agreed to them sharing your data for lawful purposes, and your supposed bad parking is deemed to be one such lawful purpose.

Will this change?

There are efforts underway to crack down on rogue parking firms, and this issue is currently featuring widely in the press. As an individual, you can make a fuss about it, share your story and tell the world, but actually doing anything practical about it is pretty tough. You could of course take the parking firm to court, but you’d need very deep pockets and unless you’re very rich, it’s not worth it just for the principal of it. The DVLA are unlikely to want to give up this lucrative revenue stream, so unless an external watchdog steps in to investigate and the government enforce changes, we could see this practice continue into the future.