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Location privacy bill sits on Hawaiian governor's desk

On May 2, 2019, Bill HB702 HD1 SD2 passed through the Hawaii Legislature and is currently sitting on Democratic Gov. David Ige’s desk. The bill protects users’ location data gathered from smartphones, tablets and other technology equipped with satellite navigation. Ige has until June 24 to notify the Legislature if he intends to veto HB702.

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If passed, Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to prohibit the sale of location data collected by satellite-navigation-technology-equipped devices without the explicit consent of the primary user.

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HB702 would add a new section to Part I of Chapter 481B, Hawaii’s unfair and deceptive practices statute, that “no person shall sell or offer for sale location data that is recorded or collected by a satellite navigation technology-equipped device without the explicit consent of the individual who is the primary user of the satellite navigation technology-equipped device.”

In its findings, the Legislature states “when location data is collected from a smartphone or other device that people tend to keep on or near their person, the location data essentially becomes a permanent record of a person's movement and daily life.” Consequently, the sale or offering for sale of location data, without the person's knowledge or consent, is an “unfair and deceptive practice.”

Although HB702 specifies satellite navigation technology as “technology that uses communication between electronic receivers and satellites to determine geolocation and time information,” it does not define “sale” or “location data.” Additionally, under Chapter 481B, a consumer, the attorney general or the director of the office of consumer protection may bring an action for an unfair or deceptive act or practice.

HB702 passed through most of the legislative process without opposition — not a single vote against the bill. However, after the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association submitted a letter to House leaders expressing concerns about the bill, five representatives voted yes with reservations, and 17 representatives voted no during its final reading.

Several state legislatures in the U.S. are actively considering legislation to protect privacy rights in today’s rapidly changing digital world. If Ige signs HB 702, it will take effect July 1, 2019.

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