Rethinking the Availability of Home Addresses

Rethinking the Availability of Home Addresses

Manitoba Leads the Way

Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will be removing home addresses from non-commercial vehicle registration cards out of privacy concerns this March. MPI is a non-profit Crown corporation that provides basic public automobile insurance throughout the province of Manitoba. The basic insurance product offered by MPI is known more informally as Autopac and is compulsory in Manitoba. Extension insurance products (lower deductibles, increased insurance coverage, etc.) are sold in competition with the private sector.

Because many policy holders leave their vehicle registration cards inside their vehicle, if someone happens to break into the vehicle, the thief now has the registered owner’s home address. The new measure is thus being implemented to improve privacy and security of Manitobans.

The change is supported by the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police since police vehicles now have online computer access to drive and vehicle licensing databases to confirm addresses of registered vehicle owners, making it unnecessary to include the information on the physical cards issued.

As of March 1, 2017, vehicle owners renewing registrations as well as those registering a new  vehicle will no longer have their home addresses on the documentation. The full transition to the new system may take up to five years as current vehicle registration cards in the province could be valid for this period of time. Drivers can also obtain a new card immediately without their home address for a $15 vehicle registration card replacement fee.

Manitoba is certainly leading the way in thinking about what personal information actually needs to be made available in print form. Privacy depends upon organizations and the government considering ways in which the collection, use and disclosure of personal details can be limited in order to avoid privacy breaches. Thus, I think it’s commendable that MPI identified the privacy concern, and is taking steps to change a long-standing practice.

What about the Rest of the Country?

British Columbia and Saskatchewan have publicly run auto insurance and should certainly consider following Manitoba’s lead. For the majority of provinces where auto insurance is only provided by private sector insurance companies, address information is likely needed on the print insurance card for identification purposes. Drivers should be storing their insurance card in their wallet with their driver’s license. However, the ownership papers provided by provincial transportation ministries are often left by drivers in their vehicles. Address information may not be needed in print on such papers since police officers can confirm identity upon look-up. Thus, Manitoba’s example of a privacy enhancement that makes home addresses less easily available to thieves should be seriously considered across the country.

Contact PRIVATECH to assess what steps your organization could take to limit the availability of the personal information of your stakeholders.