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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lt. Gov. Kinder seeks meeting with Nixon over privacy concerns

A judge issued a restraining order on the Revenue Department's practice Monday night.

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder hand-delivered a letter Tuesday to Gov. Jay Nixon, requesting a meeting to address the privacy concerns of Missourians.

These privacy concerns were sparked by a lawsuit filed on Monday in Stoddard County, drawing attention to a new practice by the Missouri Department of Revenue.

Eric Griffin, the lawsuit's plaintiff, applied for a concealed carry endorsement on his driver's license with the Stoddard County license bureau, which is run by the DOR.

The bureau refused Griffin's application after he did not allow the agent to scan and save his personal documents in the DOR's system, which would have then been forwarded to a company in Atlanta, according to the lawsuit.

Under the previous system, DOR agents would look at the documents, check a box and return them, Oliver said in the announcement.

Stoddard County prosecutor Russell Oliver, who is acting as Griffin's attorney, announced the lawsuit earlier this week. Kinder and Missouri Speaker Tim Jones attended the announcement, where Kinder said this was a new practice for his office. According to the lawsuit, this practice began in Stoddard County about a month ago.

"It is the lawsuit's opinion that this is a violation of state statue that prevents the collection of any personal information by the DOR and its fee office," Oliver said.

In his letter to Nixon, Kinder said the new process violates state law. He wrote that the dissemination of private information to third parties is an issue and that he is committed to protecting the civil liberties of Missourians.

The Revenue Department is within the executive branch, meaning it answers to Nixon.

"The extent and scope of this practice is unknown at this time," Kinder wrote in the letter. "However, my office has fielded numerous phone calls from concerned Missourians worried their privacy will be compromised should they patronize their local fee office."

Kinder invited members of the General Assembly to the meeting he plans to have with Nixon.

The lawsuit states that, pursuant to state statutes, a concealed carry endorsement is protected information, meaning the disclosure of said information is a Class A Misdemeanor.

Revenue Department spokesperson Ted Farnen told the Associated Press that the department's operations follow statutory protocols, but he declined further comment.

The Columbia License Office could not be reached for comment.

A Stoddard County judge issued a restraining order on the practice and scheduled a hearing for March 12.

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