Boat Owner Personal Privacy
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Oct 19, 2023 - Boat owner personal privacy in boating terms relates to the federal Drivers Personal Privacy Act (DPPA) (18 U.S.C 2021) as adopted by state boat registration agencies. This law in its basic form prohibits the release and use of personal information from state motor vehicle records, subject to certain exceptions. A number of state jurisdictions have now expanded on its meaning to include boat title and registration records.
Although some states have not yet implemented DPPA restrictions with regard to boats, there is a growing trend in this direction and will likely become all encompassing in the near future. It is especially prevalent in jurisdictions where the administration of boat registrations and accompanying records has been integrated into existing vehicle systems.
While the USCG is now redacting personal information from their periodic vessel documentation listing publications, such data is still openly available to the public in their abstracts of title. The redactions coincided with apparent abuses where certain businesses began using such listings as a mailing list for the dissemination of false and misleading information.
Under DPPA rules, owners may access their own records and authorize others to do so on their behalf. It also provides for certain exceptions such as government agencies, manufacturers, abandonments, legal actions, licensed investigators, towing or storage, insurance and licensed boat dealers. A comprehensive list of authorized parties can be found in the DPPA Statutory Rules (WikiLinks). Information about states which have adopted DPPA regulations, or a variation thereof, can be found in the State Registration Databases and State Boating Requirements section(WikiTags).
DPPA and related state level statutes are designed to prevent nefarious use of ownership data gathered on both vehicles and boats. Although well intended, this has created immense problems for those in the marine industry who rely on such information in the legitimate course of doing business. As with the emergence of any new forms of legislation, there is much confusion as to where, when, and why such restrictions may become applicable.
BoatWiki is working hard to sort all of this out and encourages any related feedback (WikiShare) from the boating community. Boaters should accordingly reach out to the respective boat registration agencies with any lingering questions.
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Oct 19, 2023 - Page revised.