Full Court to Look at Overly Personal Parking Tickets

     CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit will rehear a case alleging that an Illinois village violates privacy rights by printing residents’ personal information on parking tickets.
     On July 11, the court ruled in favor of the village of Palatine, which fined plaintiff Jason Senne $20 for leaving his vehicle in a parking space overnight. Senne had proposed a class action, arguing that the village’s ticketing policy violates the Driver’s Protection Act by disclosing personal information contained in a motor vehicle record.
     Tickets list the vehicle owner’s name, address, driver’s license number, date of birth, sex, height, and weight. Citations also double as an envelope, with the personal information appearing on the outside.
     The federal appeals court originally ruled that the village’s actions were protected by an exception for uses in connection with civil, criminal, administrative or arbitral proceedings. The court rejected Senne’s argument that the exception should not apply because the information does not aid service.
     It also rejected Senne’s alternative claim that the information was unlawfully disclosed when payments were mailed, finding that the individual, not the village, was responsible for that disclosure.
     But the July decision was not unanimous. Judge Kenneth Ripple wrote an impassioned dissent, stating that the disclosure of unnecessary personal information was exactly what Congress intended to prevent in passing the Driver’s Protection Act.
     “We should not ascribe to Congress the intent to sanction the publication of any and all personal information through the invocation of an exception,” Ripple wrote. “Rather, we should follow the manifest intent of the statute that such disclosures be limited to those that are reasonable in effectuating the purpose of that exception. … To attribute any other intent from the text or the structure of the statute is to infer that Congress deliberately intended to frustrate the very purpose of the statue.”
     Ripple predicted that the consequences of this case may prove disastrous.
     “Under the majority’s opinion, an individual seeking to stalk or rape can go down a street where overnight parking is banned and collect the home addresses and personal information of women whose vehicles have been tagged and their personal information left for him to see,” he wrote.
     On Wednesday, the court voted to grant Senne’s petition for a rehearing en banc. The date of oral arguments has not yet been set.

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