House Focuses on Privacy Issues

Iowans value their right to privacy, and this year the Iowa House is working hard to prevent individuals and the state from violating that privacy. The House recently passed three bills to protect the privacy of Iowans in their home, travels and online.

House File 2368 focuses on protecting the identity of a child. Under current law, a person over the age of 18 may place a security freeze on their credit through a consumer credit agency. A security freeze prevents a credit reporting agency from releasing credit report data without consent and helps prevent identity theft by stopping others from opening credit cards, bank accounts and obtaining loans with another’s identity.
 
This new legislation will allow the parent or guardian of a person under 16 to request a security freeze their child’s account. This security freeze is also available to people who have had a guardian or conservatorship appointed. There have been numerous cases of people stealing children’s identity and opening bank accounts, credit cards and even taking out home loans. Parents often don’t think to protect their child’s credit report until it is too late. Allowing parents and guardians to place a security freeze on a child’s credit will help cut down on childhood identity theft and protect the child’s credit for future, legal use.
 
Current Iowa code is silent on the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) for surveillance. House File 2289 is focused on updating our law to ensure the privacy of Iowans. Under the proposed bill, government agencies could not acquire UAV’s without prior approval and once they acquire the UAV’s, they cannot record data without court approval. Additionally, private individuals could not use UAV’s to stalk, harass or intimidate others. The Federal Aviation Administration is working on guidelines for UAV use, but it could be several years before they are fully developed. This bill provides protection now without waiting for federal regulation.
 
I was the bill manager for House File 2278, which limits how regional transit data can be shared with partner organizations, businesses and government agencies. Regional transit districts such as DART will soon be changing to an electronic fare card system, which will allow for the collection of passenger usage data. House File 2278 specifically limits how that information can be used and shared.
 
This new law would prevent a transit district from releasing specific information about a passenger. Instead, only aggregate data could be disclosed to government entities, organizations, school districts, educational institutions and employers who subsidize or provide fare cards for individuals. The aggregate data is limited to total usage of routes, times of day, etc. By helping to keep riders information private, the Iowa House is ensuring those who use regional transit don’t have to worry about someone knowing where they travel and when. 
 
Privacy issues will continue to come up throughout the legislative session. These three bills are currently waiting for subcommittees in the Senate.  I am hopeful that the Senate will take them up yet this year.


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