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State finds unauthorized data access at North Mankato, Fairfax deputy registrar offices

(KVLY)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 12:06 PM CDT
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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Five current employees at deputy registrar offices in North Mankato and Fairfax have permanently lost access to driver and vehicle data as a result of audits conducted by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services Division.

According to a release from the state, three of the five employees of the North Mankato Deputy Registrar office have permanently lost access to driver and vehicle data after it was found that the individuals accessed several driver’s license and motor vehicle records without a lawful business purpose. A self-search by an employee at the North Mankato office on May 4 triggered the audit by DPS-DVS. It is unlawful for a person with access to DPS-DVS data to perform a search on themselves or anyone else without a lawful business purpose. DPS-DVS suspended the user on May 28. Additional auditing found four users in the office accessed DPS-DVS data without a lawful business purpose. Three of the four individuals are current employees, while the fourth is no longer an employee of the privately owned office. The revocations leave two employees at the North Mankato office with access to DPS-DVS data.

The state also says DPS-DVS became aware of an employee of the Fairfax Deputy Registrar office using another employee’s access credentials, which is not allowed under the law. This triggered an audit by DPS-DVS and auditors found seven instances where the two users accessed DVS data without a lawful business purpose. As a result, their access to DVS data has been permanently revoked, as required by law.

Because the two individuals are the only employees of the Fairfax Deputy Registrar, the office will need to close until other individuals can be hired, trained and authorized to access DPS-DVS data.

Both the North Mankato and the Fairfax Deputy Registrar office are privately owned and operated.

Minnesota law requires DPS-DVS to “immediately and permanently revoke the authorization of any individual who entered, updated, accessed, shared or disseminated data in violation of state or federal law.” The law says access must be revoked “immediately and permanently,” it does not state whether or not the person should be reassigned or their employment terminated. That is the decision of the employer. However, if a person needs to access the DPS-DVS data as a part of their assigned job duties they will no longer be able to perform that part of their job.

The law requires DPS-DVS to forward the matter to the appropriate prosecuting authority for prosecution when an “individual willfully gained access to data without authorization by law.” The state says Information about the misuse found at both offices was forwarded to the respective county attorneys for review of possible criminal charges.

DPS-DVS has taken action in several cases since the law went into effect in October of 2018. A total of 51 people, including employees at private companies and state employees, have been permanently revoked from having access to DPS-DVS data.

The state says it is not clear how this action will affect services provided by the North Mankato deputy registrar office. The Fairfax Deputy Registrar office will need to close until other individuals can be hired, trained and authorized to access DPS-DVS data.

The offices offer the following services:

  • Driver’s License: First time applications, duplicate, and renewal (standard, REAL-ID, EDL)
  • Vehicles: Registration, title transaction, same say duplicate titles.
  • Expedited Services offered for vehicle title and driver’s license applications
  • Disability Parking Certifications
  • International Fuel Tax and International Registration Plan services for interstate motor carriers
  • DNR registration (boat, snowmobile)
  • Fish and Game Licenses

Offices closest to the North Mankato Deputy Registrar offering similar services include:

  • Mankato
  • New Ulm
  • St. Peter
  • Waseca
  • Le Center

Offices closest to Fairfax Deputy Registrar offering similar services include:

  • Sleepy Eye
  • New Ulm
  • Redwood Falls
  • Olivia
  • Springfield
  • Gaylord

More information about DPS-DVS locations and services is available at drive.mn.gov.

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