Missoula Pawn Shop Chooses Not to Comply With New City Ordinance
Last August, Missoula city council changed the reporting requirements for area Pawn shops. Now, some pawn shop owners are involved in a legal fight with the city, arguing that the ordinance is an invasion of privacy and that the private company, Leads Online, has no right to store their customer’s information. Riverside Pawn co-owner Ericka Hughes explains.
"Leads Online is not the same as law enforcement," said Riverside Pawn Co-Owner Ericka Hughes. "Leads Online is a third-party, for-profit, private corporation, that stores private, personal information on the cloud. Of course they give us all kinds of assurances that it is only accessible by law enforcement officers, but it is currently used by over 2,100 different agencies, and those agencies have any number of employees that have access to that information."
Hughes argues that Leads Online isn’t taking enough responsibility for the information it handles, which she says includes nearly everything that can be found on a driver’s license.
"It's a database, and they can't really make a 100 percent guarantee of its security, but in the event that there was a security breach, they've pretty much absolved themselves of all responsibility, and that makes me really uncomfortable," Hughes said. "Not only do I not want to supply my customers private information, but I don't want to be held responsible if there ever was a security breach."
At this point, Riverside Pawn has refused to comply with the city ordinance under threat of fines and incarceration. Co-owner Brian Hughes says he believes the information should be protected under the Fourth Amendment. Missoula City Council is expected to take up the issue this month.