6/14/2016New Hampshire Backs Down On Driver Privacy
Live Free or Die state repeals prohibitions on license plate readers and Real ID.
New Hampshire once had the strongest protections in the nation for the privacy of its drivers. State officials were explicitly prohibited from participating in any way with national licensing databases, and neither photo enforcement nor automated license plate readers (ALPR, also known as ANPR) could be used, with the exception of license plate readers on toll roads. Governor Maggie Hassan (D) set a different course last month as she signed legislation eliminating these protections.
House Bill 1154 repealed the existing prohibition on "highway surveillance." In its place is a blanket authorization allowing any law enforcement agency in the state to use camera systems to record the movements of motorists with license plate reader systems. The state attorney general will have the authority to audit any department's use of license plate cameras. The revised language, which takes effect July 18, does not authorize the use of red light cameras or speed cameras.
The governor also signed House Bill 1616, which brings the state in line with the federal driver's license system established under Real ID. Previous law prohibited any participation in the national program.
"The general court finds that the public policy established by Congress in the Real ID Act of 2005, Public Law 109-13, is contrary and repugnant to Articles 1 through 10 of the New Hampshire constitution as well as Amendments 4 though 10 of the Constitution for the United States of America," the now-repealed New Hampshire law previously stated.
The newly enacted law allows full participation in all Real ID systems and allows the driver's license information of the state's residents to be fed into various federal and state database systems, including the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (NLETS), which is used by red light camera and speed camera companies. The Tenth Amendment Center condemned the legislation, citing it as an example of how special interests never rest when it comes to chipping away at motorist protections.
"These two new laws teach a valuable lesson: we cannot count on governments to maintain existing protections," the group explained. "They can easily roll back past accomplishments. Maintaining protection of our rights from government intrusion requires constant vigilance."