Minnesota may redo data audits, protection

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2013 - 9:18 PM

Driver's license database moves are part of a settlement with ex-cop Anne Marie Rasmusson, her attorneys say.

Attorneys for a former police officer whose driver's license data was repeatedly breached said Tuesday that the state has agreed to conduct better audits and impose more safeguards of the often-misused driver information database.

The legal settlement between Anne Marie Rasmusson and the Department of Public Safety is one of the last dominos to fall in a lawsuit that has cost local governments across the state more than $1 million. Rasmusson's success in the case has prompted a slew of class action lawsuits related to other incidents of driver's license data misuse.

Sonia Miller-Van Oort, one of Rasmusson's attorneys with Sapientia Law Group, said they reached a binding settlement agreement and were finalizing the paperwork, which has not been signed. A Department of Public Safety spokesman, Bruce Gordon, said he could not comment on ongoing litigation.

Miller-Van Oort said Tuesday that the settlement with the state centers on reforms to the database, rather than a payout. They will be seeking attorney fees, however, which could be substantial.

Rasmusson, a former St. Paul and Eden Prairie cop, filed the expansive suit after learning that officers in agencies had accessed her driver's license data hundreds of times, presumably without a work purpose. That database, which contains photographs, addresses and driving records on Minnesotans with a license, is protected by state and federal law against illegitimate use.

Among stipulations of Rasmusson's settlement, according to Miller-Van Oort: The state will perform monthly audits of top search targets, rather than merely most active users, to identify anomalies.

The state must also audit the top 50 most-active users and perform randomized audits, Miller-Van Oort said. Gordon said the department began monthly auditing of the top 50 users last year and initiated randomized audits in January.

A modified log-in screen will present new information about permissible uses and require users to confirm that they have a legitimate search purpose. The settlement also requires the state to augment data training.

Rasmusson had sued the commissioner of public safety, Mona Dohman, as well as the former Commissioner Michael Campion. Dohman and Campion filed a brief in federal court Monday withdrawing a motion to dismiss the case.

Rasmusson's attorneys are not done pursuing cases related to database misuse. They announced Tuesday that they were joining another firm, Sieben Grose Von Holtum & Carey, in a suit seeking class action status against the state for last month's Department of Natural Resources data breach.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 Twitter: @StribRoper

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