CONCORD, N.H. (Jan. 16, 2023) – A bill introduced in the New Hampshire House would ban state and local government collection of “personal information” without a warrant in many situations. The passage of this legislation would help protect privacy in New Hampshire and hinder one aspect of the federal surveillance state.

Rep. Keith Erf (R) and Rep. Bob Lynn (R) introduced House Bill 314 (HB314) on Jan. 9. The legislation would prohibit any state or local government entity from “acquiring, collecting, retaining, or using any personal information of any individual residing in New Hampshire from any third-party provider without a warrant” in many situations.

HB314 broadly defines “personal information” as “an individual’s name, date or place of birth; social security number; address; employment history; credit history; financial and other account numbers; cellular telephone numbers; voice over Internet protocol or landline telephone numbers; location information; biometric identifiers including fingerprints, facial photographs or images, retinal scans, genetic profiles, and DNA/RNA data; or other identifying data unique to that individual.”

The bill allows a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement so government agencies can collect information in the normal course of their operation, or in the event of an emergency with the immediate danger of death or serious physical injury.

In practice, HB314 would broadly prohibit law enforcement agencies in the state from collecting personal information without a warrant.


It has become standard practice for law enforcement agencies to upload data and information gathered at the state and local levels to federal fusion centers operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agencies.

Fusion centers serve as clearinghouses for all kinds of information shared between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies—including data gathered by surveillance cameras, drones, intercepted cellphone and email communications, social network spying, as well as ALPRs and other invasive modes of surveillance. The DHS funds and ultimately runs 79 fusion centers across the U.S. The DHS describes homeland security intelligence/information fusion as the ”…process of managing the flow of information to support the rapid identification of emerging terrorism-related threats requiring intervention by government and private-sector authorities.”

Fusion centers were sold as a tool to combat terrorism, but that is not how they are being used. The ACLU pointed to a bipartisan congressional report to demonstrate the true nature of government fusion centers: “They haven’t contributed anything meaningful to counterterrorism efforts. Instead, they have largely served as police surveillance and information sharing nodes for law enforcement efforts targeting the frequent subjects of police attention: Black and brown people, immigrants, dissidents, and the poor.”

Fusion centers operate within a broader federal system known as the “information sharing environment” or ISE. According to its website, the ISE “provides analysts, operators, and investigators with information needed to enhance national security. These analysts, operators, and investigators…have mission needs to collaborate and share information with each other and with private sector partners and our foreign allies.” In other words, ISE serves as a conduit for the sharing of information gathered without a warrant. Known ISE partners include the Office of Director of National Intelligence which oversees 17 federal agencies and organizations, including the NSA. ISE utilizes these partnerships to collect and share data on the millions of unwitting people they track.

When states limit the data and information law enforcement agencies can collect, it minimizes the amount of information and data that can end up in this federal information-sharing pipeline. Legislation such as HB314 practically hinders the operation and growth of the federal surveillance state. Simply put if the data is never gathered in the first place, it can’t be shared.

In a nutshell, without state and local cooperation, the feds have a much more difficult time gathering information. The enactment of HB314 would strike another blow to the surveillance state and would be a win for privacy.


HB314 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. It is scheduled to receive a hearing on Jan. 19 at 10 a.m. in Legislative Office Building 206-208. An ought-to-pass recommendation by the committee would greatly improve the bill’s chance for passage in the full House.

Mike Maharrey

The 10th Amendment

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