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Traffic ticket data shipped to Mexico

The Orange County Superior Court in California is outsourcing the processing of traffic tickets to a California company that sends the information through a Nogales, Mexico, subsidiary, raising public concerns of identity theft and complaints of language problems that allegedly lead to months of administrative errors in processing paperwork.

The controversy broke this week on KFI AM-640’s popular John and Ken radio show when an unidentified law enforcement officer called the show and broke the news.

Many listeners of the show were outraged to learn information from traffic citations was being sent to Mexico, where Mexican workers had complete access to a driver’s personal information.

The next day, calls and e-mails from angry listeners besieged the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

In a first attempt to stem the growing controversy, the Orange County Superior Court issued a press release affirming that since March 2006 the court has outsourced the processing of traffic ticket citation data to Cal Coast Data Entry, Inc., a company headquartered in Cerritos, Calif.

The Cal Coast website affirms that the company operates an office in Nogales, Data Center de Nogales.

The Orange County Superior Court press release further explained that Cal Coast scans Orange County traffic tickets electronically in its California office, but the data is transferred electronically in encrypted form to the company’s Nogales facility where the data is entered into a computerized database by Mexican workers.

The court’s press release tried to reassure the public that Cal Coast’s Nogales facility is a secure, state-of-the-art facility with 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week security guards, as well as video cameras and facility access restricted to badge holders.

According to the website of the Orange County Superior Court, it has the responsibility to process traffic citations for law enforcement agencies in Orange County, not the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Later, Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby made an on-air appearance by telephone on the John and Ken Show, again attempting to deflect the criticism.

Norby explained to the radio audience that the Orange Superior Court was responsible for the Cal Coast contract, not the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

On air, Norby affirmed that complete driver and vehicle information that was included on the traffic citations was being sent to the Cal Coast office in Nogales, including driver’s license numbers, driver’s addresses, vehicle license plate numbers, and vehicle identifications.

“The County Board of Supervisors has no control over this contract,” Norby told the radio audience, “and we are just as concerned as your listeners are.”

“This is obviously sensitive information,” Norby said in the radio interview, expressing his own outrage. “Driver license information has to be kept as closely guarded as possible and outsourcing this kind of information out of the country is something that this Board would never support.”

Norby told the radio audience he had discussed the situation with Mike Duval, the California State Assemblyman in north Orange County. He said Duval expressed interest in having the California state legislature sponsor legislation to prevent outsourcing California driver’s license information to Mexico in the future.

Callers to the show complained that they were experiencing months of delays and numerous errors due to language difficulties in tracking down where their traffic tickets were, making sure the tickets were registered in the Orange County Superior Court database, and in correcting data entry errors that were showing up in the tickets at court.

Cal Coast declined comment on the situation.

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