Update on HB 1680

On February 14, 2020, we highlighted a bill under consideration by the New Hampshire General Court, HB 1680, that, if passed, would impose a sweeping privacy law like the one passed in California in 2018. https://www.nhbr.com/nh-weighs-california-like-privacy-law/ 

HB 1680 likely will not become law this session.  On March 5, 2020, the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs voted 18-1 to refer the bill for interim study.  Rep. Kermit Williams for Commerce and Consumer Affairs reported the committee’s rationale: “While the committee recognizes an ever-increasing concern about online privacy among our constituents, we felt that this bill would not be an effective tool to provide that privacy. An amendment was offered that would only apply to Internet Service Providers, or ISPs. ISPs provide internet access to customers, but the websites those customers access are the most likely entities to monetize that customer’s personal information. Some companies that operate ISPs may offer websites or other businesses as well as internet access, but those businesses are normally separated in both access and corporate structure. The committee believes that more work needs to be done to find an effective solution for data privacy, and the solution may make more sense at a federal level, since very little of the data privacy problem happens within New Hampshire’s borders.”

For now, it appears New Hampshire will not join California in adopting a sweeping privacy statute.  The experience in California since that law was passed in 2018 has been bumpy.  That statute was rushed through the legislative process to avoid a ballot referendum becoming the law of that state.  Given the California law’s breadth and scope and the fact that it was passed very quickly, a lot of effort has been exerted since then to try to craft regulations to make the law workable.  Perhaps the struggles in California gave New Hampshire’s legislators some pause.  There is also a bill under consideration in Massachusetts that if, passed, might shape the path New Hampshire takes in the coming years.