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DNR says worker improperly accessed license data

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Department of Natural Resources employee accessed the driving and motor vehicle records of about 5,000 Minnesotans without authorization, the agency said Tuesday.

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The employee is no longer employed by the DNR, the agency said in a statement. DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said he couldn't say whether the employee was fired.

The DNR has asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate, but no criminal charges have been filed so far.

The DNR said its own investigation found no indication the data was sold, disclosed to others or used for criminal purposes, but said it's advising the affected people to monitor their credit reports. The agency also said it reported the breach to the three main credit reporting agencies.

Niskanen said he couldn't identify where the employee worked in the DNR. But he said "several hundred" DNR employees have a "business need to know" that gives them access to the data, including people in game and fish licensing; those who investigate game, fish and recreational vehicle violations; and those involved in registering recreational vehicles including ATVs and snowmobiles.

"The agency is implementing additional employee training and looking into ways to monitor access to the data to ensure it doesn't happen again," Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in the statement.

It's illegal to access drivers' license data without a legitimate government purpose, but state audits have found that misuse is common and a number of public employees have faced discipline for it. Several cities have recently agreed to settlements totaling over $1 million with a former Eden Prairie police officer who alleged her private data was improperly viewed by more than 140 officers from various departments.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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