The New Hampshire Legislature is currently considering several bills addressing privacy and protection of electronic information. The most notable of those bills may be HB 1680, which is very similar to the sweeping privacy law passed in California in 2018. For more on that bill, please see “A new bill could impose new restrictions on how some businesses treat the data about customers they possess”, https://www.nhbr.com/nh-weighs-california-like-privacy-law/
HB 1680 is not the only bill under consideration this term that relates to data privacy. If you are interested in data privacy, you might also want to monitor the following bills that have been introduced this session.
Several bills add or strengthen criminal penalties for misuse of private information. HB 1141, for example, makes it a crime to transmit unsolicited images depicting sexually explicit conduct if the sender knows that the recipient has not consented to receiving such images and the images were sent to harass, annoy or alarm the recipient. HB 1175 increases the penalties from a misdemeanor to a class B felony if one is convicted of surreptitiously photographing or recording another person’s private body parts. SB 439 addresses a similar topic. It increases the penalty to a felony for unlawfully photographing or recording another’s private body parts if the photographs or recordings were obtained without consent and the setting was private. The bill makes it a class A misdemeanor to obtain such unconsented photographs or recordings in a public place. HB 1283 adds a new section to the statute defining breach of the peace and harassment to include recklessly or negligently disclosing another person’s personally identifiable information with the intent to harass or intimidate.
One bill is aimed at how employers use private information in hiring and other employment decisions. HB 1221 prohibits employers from using an applicant’s or employee’s personal financial and credit history in employment decisions, unless the employer has a bona fide reason because the credit history report is substantially related to the job and the employer complies with notice and consent requirements of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. The bill defines “substantially related” to mean that the position is managerial, involves access to customers’ or employees’ personal or financial information (other than the type of information supplied in a retail transaction), involves a fiduciary responsibility of the employer, or provides an expense account or corporate credit/debit card.
A few bills target how information is shared with and used by municipal and state government bodies. HB 1236 memorializes an “expectation of privacy in personal information,” and prohibits government actors from acquiring, collecting or retaining personal information without a warrant or outside of emergent circumstances – unless the individual provides the personal information to the government actor, authorizes its use for a specific purpose, and it is actually used only for that purpose. SB 316 is similar. It prohibits the disclosure of personal information without consent, a warrant, or emergent circumstances. This bill makes violations a class B misdemeanor carrying a fine of not more than $1,000 for the first offence. As a sign that the sponsors of the bill want to ensure the State, towns and cities also comply, the bill states that a government body that knowingly violates the bill’s terms would be fined $10,000 for each offence. SB 316 also creates a private right of action of those harmed by the disclosure with damages of no less than $2,000.
Information created or stored about a person’s location is also a hot topic at the General Court. HB 1376 allows for the retention or sharing of location information solely to fulfill an explicit customer request and not for any other purpose. The bill creates a private right of action for persons whose rights have been violated and imposes a civil penalty of $1,000-$10,000 per day for each violation. SB 732 is similar in that it prohibits a mobile application developer or telecommunications carrier from sharing a customer’s location data. This does not apply to information provided to law enforcement in response to a warrant, information needed in an emergency, and information that was provided by a customer himself/herself to the mobile application. The bill imposes civil fines for noncompliance.
There is obviously a fair amount of attention this term on our rights in this digital world. Keep an eye out as these bills make their way through the legislative process.