House OK’s bill limiting use of radio tracking devices

CONCORD – Privacy advocates overturned a Commerce Committee vote and won House approval of a bill yesterday limiting the use of radio tracking devices in consumer products.HB 686 bans the implantation of RFID (radio frequency identification ) chips in humans and requires a notification label on any product that contains them. It also bars the state from using the devices in drivers licenses, license plates and E-ZPass transponders.

RFID’s are readable from a distance of up to 20 yards, and are currently used mostly for inventory. Those who wanted strict limits on their use said the technology can be used to link consumer products to the individuals who buy them.

“It’s no one’s business where New Hampshire people go or don’t go. Protect your inventory, Mr. Retailer, but don’t follow the customers,” Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said.

The majority on the Commerce Committee wanted to limit the bill to a ban on implantation and on the use of scanners. They argued that the state will run into problems with laws on interstate commerce with the version that passed yesterday.

It also passed a bill allocating $1.7 million in payments to charter schools that are in danger of closing. However, Senate President Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord, said the bill, HB 1642, would not fare well in the Senate.

“We are not passing additional spending bills out of the Senate unless there’s an emergency, like a flood or a court order, like adequate education funding,” she said. “$1.7 million is not in our budget and it is unlikely we will find it.”

In other action, the House passed: HB 1648, which would allow the director of the Fish and Game Department to suspend a driver’s license for failure to pay a bill for a search and rescue mission; HB 1651, which allows Coos County towns to exempt new businesses from local property and school taxes; HB 1604, which reforms E-ZPass laws so that the state will not suspend a driver’s license for alleged toll violations; HB 1286, which requires mortgage bankers , brokers and originators to be licensed with the New Hampshire Banking Department.

The House delayed until next year a decision on whether to return 17-year-olds to the juvenile justice system, voting to send the issue back for more study, and rejected CACR 28, which would have changed the state Constitution to raise legislators’ pay to $100 a week, rather than the current $100 a year.


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