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Report claims Ohio sold DMV records

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles sold driving records of Ohioans for about $50,000 to a Florida company developing a multistate crime database program, a newspaper reported.

The program, called Matrix, lets states share information and cross-reference the data with up to 20 billion records in databases held by Seisint Inc., a company in Boca Raton.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Julie Hinds told The Columbus Dispatch that Seisint paid Ohio $50,073 between October 2002 and December 2003.

Hinds said the company signed an agreement not to misuse the information.

Twelve states that had expressed interest or were involved in the program have pulled out. Connecticut, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania are still participating.

A spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, who supports the system, said the information Ohio is sharing is already available to law enforcement.

''There's nothing novel here. It's just the speed at which it's done,'' said James V. Canepa, chief deputy attorney general.

The records include details on property, boats and Internet domain names that people own, their address history, utility connections, bankruptcies, liens and business filings, according to an August report by the Georgia Office of Homeland Security.

The American Civil Liberties Union has complained that the system, formally known as Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange, could be used by state and federal investigators to compile dossiers on people who have never been suspected of a crime.

Seisint officials have said safeguards are built into the system to prevent such abuses.

Ohio and other states have been given releases stating they won't be liable for mistakes if data from the system contain errors.

The ACLU has filed a number of public-records requests in Ohio and other states to get more details.

''Accuracy on this seems to be poor at best,'' said Carrie Davis, an attorney with the ACLU of Ohio. ``We have no idea what these records are.''

Gov. Bob Taft is reviewing to what extent Ohio should be involved. ''We are reviewing various legal issues and also long-term cost implications,'' Taft spokesman Orest Holubec said.