Collision course with self-incrimination

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As the Legislature winds down there are proposals that sometimes miraculously appear and reappear in bills, finding a life of its own.  It seems this is happening with a provision which was originally in HF1060, section 5.

The proposed provision would allow MnDot to have access to accident reports for purposes of restitution. Accident reports are different than police reports.  Accident reports is part of Federal law that mandate states to have individuals fill out when they are in an accident.  This data is only for accident analysis and only can be accessed for that purpose and only when a person can claim for specific damage with detail.

What MnDot proposes for efficiency and ease of access will allow them to have access to your private data without necessarily having specific reason to do so.  In other words, MnDot wants to “riffle” through your accident reports to see if you may have been the person who damaged property.

The issue is this, data collected for one purpose, accident analysis.  Accident analysis is done to make roads and traffic situations safer for us.  The government offers confidentiality and bars use of the data you put in the accident report for various legal situations.(Minn. Statute 169.09, subdivision 13).  The government wants you and encourages you to be honest.

Then an agency sees the goldmine of data for other purposes, in this case, MnDot. Who will be the next agency or public entity that wants it?

Government and the Legislature has to decide what they want from the individual, to be frank and honest in an accident report and promise that the data will be kept private and used for the purpose told. or, tell the individual that the data can be used for different purposes, therefore the person more than likely will not be honest and frank to help improve safety for the roads and us.

The House Data Practices Committee last week had serious questions about this provision.  It did not go forward.  It appeared magically in HF1068, Section 39.  On the Senate side, it is in SF1149.

Here goes the government again collecting data for one purpose, then using it for another purpose without your consent or knowledge.