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DVLA retracts lie after Plain Language Commission campaign

[14 March 2013] STOP PRESS: After further pressure from Plain Language Commission, the DVLA has withdrawn from its website the second lie we highlighted in our article below.

[10 Mar 2013] It has taken nearly a year of effort but finally the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has removed from its website a central lie of the policy it is operating against the motoring public’s interests. We’re now pressing the DVLA to remove another lie along the same lines.

As visitors to our website will know, we’ve been complaining about the DVLA’s untruthful statement that when private parking companies ask it for motorists’ data: ‘We carefully evaluate every request for information and look to strike a balance between the individual’s right to privacy and fair enforcement. Unauthorised parking on private land is a good example in that the release of motorists’ personal data can help resolve a situation often involving both nuisance and economic loss.’

This is false because the DVLA makes no such individual check on the electronic applications for registered keeper data that private parking companies submit in their hunt for targets they can pursue for money. The crooked claim has sought to reassure motorists that civil servants pore over every single application, weighing up the pros and cons before oh-so-reluctantly releasing the data – or, perhaps, refusing to do so.

In fact, the DVLA looks individually only at the handful of paper-based applications it receives, and has always automatically approved the two million or so electronic applications it receives annually from private parking firms. There’s no human involvement at all, and the DVLA collects about £5million a year from the companies in data fees.

We raised the issue face to face with DVLA officials in June 2012. They promised to look into it. Nothing was done. In November we again pointed out the DVLA’s deliberate deception to senior members of its staff, who replied in writing with the weasel words ‘we will look to alternative wording’. [cont]

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