New Hampshire Bills would ban warrantless searches, use of data in court

In the emerging revolt against unconstitutional NSA surveillance, the New Hampshire legislature will consider two bills addressing federal mass spying without warrants.

HB1533  prohibits searching information in a portable device without a warrant and designates a Class-A misdemeanor charge against any official purposely in violation.

No information contained in a portable electronic device shall be subject to search by a government entity, including a search incident to a lawful arrest, except pursuant to a warrant signed by a judge and based on probable cause, or pursuant to a legally-recognized exception to the warrant requirement.

Data given during business transactions would be covered under the law. It would not protect data you share with a third party in a private conversation.

This legislation is sponsored by Rep. Neal Kurk (Republican), Rep. Emily Sandblade (Republican), and Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (Democrat).

Rep. Neal Kurk’s name appears again on HB1619. The bill affirms a reasonable expectation of privacy in information from sources including, “telephone; electric, water and other utility services; internet service providers; social media providers; banks and financial institutions; insurance companies; and credit card companies.”

No municipal, state, or federal department, agency, employee, or contractor shall acquire, collect, or retain the personal information described in paragraph I from such providers or from others, directly or indirectly, related to customers located in New Hampshire except with a warrant signed by a judge and based on probable cause or a judicially-recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Federal officials shall be exempt from this prohibition only where federal statute preempts state statue.

The the exemption for federal agents might still allow them to collect data without a warrant, but the state agencies would not be allowed to receive it and use it in state court.

“This is a very important bill. The U.S. Supreme Court has said that your constitutional right of privacy does not apply when the information is in the hands of a third party. My bill does a 180 from that and says specifically that an individual can have an expectation of privacy for their information given to third parties,” Kurk said.

These bills both address one element of the OffNOw coalition efforts to thwart NSA spying – data sharing. We know the NSA shares data with state and local law enforcement. We know from a Reuters report that most of this shared data has absolutely nothing to do with national security issues. This bill would ban New Hampshire agencies from using data collected by the NSA without a warrant, and would implicitly make illegally gathered data inadmissible in court.

These bills are both assigned to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and are scheduled for a hearing on 01-30-14