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CNN Today

Supreme Court Say No to State Selling Driver's License Information, Yes to Police Stops for Fleeing Suspects

Aired January 12, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A Supreme Court decision today could help keep the information on your driver's license from being sold.

CNN's Charles Bierbauer reports on that unanimous decision and on another ruling on that split in the court -- Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Supreme Court put a clamp on states' ability to sell information from driver's licenses. The court noted that when you apply for a driver's license you supply a lot of information, not just name, address and telephone number, but also social security number, medical information and photographs. States have discovered that that is a marketable item, and they've been selling that kind of information to mass marketers.

What the Congress then did was to pass the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, and in the arguments earlier in this term, a lot of attention was focused on the use of -- by stalkers of this kind of information to, in fact, track people down, identify their location by virtue of using their driver's license information.

Well, the state said that this is their prerogative to do what they want with the information, but the case was argued on the basis of interstate commerce being something that the Supreme Court -- rather, the Congress can regulate, and the Supreme Court agreed. And it used the privacy issue to say that, indeed, Congress could regulate this matter, and in the unanimous decision, the court said no to the state of South Carolina and others who might want to sell such information without the driver's license owner, the individual's, permission.

In a separate decision coming down from the Supreme Court, today, they ruled in the case of A Chicago man who was arrested by police when the man ran at the sight of some police driving down the street in a Chicago neighborhood that indeed the police did have the authority to chase, detain and investigate just why he might have run away. In this particular race -- case, the man by the name of Wardlow was found to be carrying a gun in violation of a -- of his parole situation, and therefore, this stop, known as a Terry stop in legal terms, was considered legal.

Chief Justice Rehnquist said that, indeed, when someone runs at the first sight of police there is a reasonable suspicion, and that when this takes place in a known high-crime area, a high-crime neighborhood, that that is an added factor. So, the police have given -- or rather, the Supreme Court has given police an added tool to work with.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN, at the Supreme Court.

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