Tim Rogers, lawbreaker?

The Open Letter is nothing new for Tim Rogers. He has publicly called out people of all demographics, including the person who stuck eating utensils in his front lawn. Nice.

But most of the time he was within his right to do that. I mean, who doesn’t hate drivers who take up two spaces?

This time, however, he went one step too far. In attempting to publicly humiliate someone who he claims he saw break the law, he himself might have broken it.

Here’s what happened. Tim called out someone by name in “An Open Letter to a Litterbug.” He says he saw someone flick a cigarette butt out of the window of a car. He then created a blog post and used the person’s full name several times, meaning he had gotten the information by using a license plate search at a Web site.

What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s illegal for a journalist (or anyone) to use that information in that way. That’s thanks to the Drivers Privacy Protection Act of 1994.

There are ways to be exempt from the law. This isn’t one of them. When Tim went to a reverse license plate search Web site to obtain the person’s name, he had to check a box agreeing to the terms. Here’s an example of what those terms look like:

I certify, and affirm, under penalty of perjury that the below identified DPPA exemption applies to this search and its follow-on displays. Further unauthorized disclosure of this information may result in penalties imposed under Title 18 U..S.C. Section 2721 et. seq., and applicable federal and state law.

He doesn’t qualify for an exemption. For more, check out the Society for Professional Journalists’ FAQ about the law. 

Here’s Tim’s original post. It has since been deleted from FrontBurner, which, to me, looks a lot like he’s admitting fault here. We removed the name of the alleged litterbug. Here’s the cached version of the post if you’d rather see it in its original format.


As well-meaning as Tim might have been, he wasn’t in his rights to do that, and the person he named can press criminal and/or civil charges. It’s possible this all might blow over and that the alleged litterbug isn’t overly upset. Either way, let’s hope Tim learned his lesson on this one.

I have sent Tim an e-mail and will allow him the opportunity to respond if he wants. Don’t hold your breath.

Thanks to a very bright LodoWickian for sending me this info.


5 Responses to Tim Rogers, lawbreaker?

  1. zero says:

    Still in my RSS feed, they might want to consider removing it from the XML to expunge the evidence it ever existed.

  2. D Listed says:

    Tim thinks he is above the law. I am sure he has been in contact with the lady and offered her some free swag. She should sue the batshit out of them.

    The sad part of it is that for something that is so out of line and such an invasion of privacy, his cheerleaders came out in full force to support him.

    They bashed Fred Baron as he lay dying. They bashed Sandra Crenshaw for calling them on their shit. They make fun of the disabled. They are all trying to be the next Michael Savage.

  3. JD says:

    It’s far too late now. The evidence is still out there somewhere, in full context. Unless Litterbug never knew and don’t care he or she was deliberately made an object of public ridicule by Tim, which I would think would be malicious on its face since L Bug wasn’t a public figure the threat of a lawsuit still hangs over them. Maybe they’ll try to pay L Bug off in advance with some gift cards or something. That would close the episode with the same class that opened it.

  4. rolling eyes says:

    Tim wasn’t being “well meaning.” He was drumming up web hits and comments. He got both and didn’t like it. And it’s going to take more than just turning off comments to deal with the legal side of it. If I were the gal who Tim called out, I would be engaging the services of Big Bad Law Firm.

  5. Smirko says:

    Rolling Eyes explains why Wick, blindsided by Tim’s load, now carries the load.

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