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Home > Privacy and Government > Privacy Law Governing the Government Sector > Sectoral Laws > The Driver's Privacy Protection Act > DPPA History

History of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act

Like many measures that have come to be addressed as having to do with "privacy," the Driver's Privacy Protection Act was enacted in response to crime.

On July 18, 1989, actress Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered by an obsessed fan named Robert John Bardo. He had obtained her address and other personal information from a private detective agency that reportedly had gotten it from Schaeffer's California motor vehicle records.

In response to Rebecca Schaeffer's murder, California enacted an anti-stalking law in 1990. All fifty states and the District of Columbia had followed suit by the end of 1993. Further direct regulation seeking to prevent anything like the Schaeffer murder was the Federal Anti-Stalking Act, passed by Congress in 1996.

The Driver's Privacy Protection Act went beyond these direct regulations to address stalking indirectly through control of information in state public records. Secrecy of public records will prevent few tragedies like the murder of Rebecca Shaeffer. Bent as he was on a criminal act, her assailant would probably have found her address another way if it had not been in DMV records.


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[updated 12/20/00]

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