NH will challenge Real ID again, address other privacy issues

Killed in a 'game of political chicken' last year, Republican has high hopes for measure blocking Real ID. Other Granite State measure indicate NH wants to put the 'free' in 'Live Free or Die.'

The New Hampshire House last year pushed a bill rejecting the federal Real ID law - which would require states to remake their driver licenses to serve as a sort of national ID card - but it was shut down in the state Senate. This year, Republican Rep. Neal Kurk, one of the Legislature's fiercest privacy advocates, is again working for a rejection of Real ID - and this year his odds are vastly improved, reports the Concord (NH) Monitor.

Kurk believes the bill "was the victim of a game of political chicken" but may have a better chance now, given the heightened public interest in privacy issues.

And Real ID is just the tip of a privacy iceberg that Kurk and other New Hampshire legislators expect to meet with approval this year.

"I'm very pleased that so many other people are recognizing that one of the consequences of technological change has been intrusions on what used to be protected, not by statute but by the inability to invade privacy," he said. "But as that has changed, people have become much more sensitive to it and a lot more folks are introducing legislation."

Kurk has also submitted proposals for bills requiring companies to provide notice if tracking devices are used on consumer products, bills banning "pretexting" to obtain personal information and legislation allowing consumers to opt out of cell-phone directories.

"Over the past 20 years I've been in the Legislature, there has been a major shift in awareness and sensitivity to privacy issues," he said.

State representatives even think the time may be right to add a privary amendment to the state constitution. Rep. Jim Ryan, a Democrat, has offered a bill to study the possibility.

Ryan, who teaches political science at New England College, said the issue needs to be approached cautiously, "not only because it's a constitutional amendment, but because the technology changes as rapidly as you can catch up with it."

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