New Hampshire House Bill 1144


Summary

New Hampshire House Bill 1144 would require any website to remove the name and personal information, including any images, of any person who has been charged with a crime within 15 days after receiving written notification from the person or the person’s designee that the person has been acquitted of the crime, the charge has been dismissed or law enforcement has elected not to pursue criminal charges against the person.

The legislation would not quire that the person asking for the information to be removed live in New Hampshire nor does the website subject to the request to take down the information need to be located in the state.

The bill was amended to instead create a committee that would study “information included in arrest records and access to information on the disposition of criminal cases. The study shall include a review of the information included in arrest records and information currently available online relative to the disposition of cases.”

Status

Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the amended bill into law. It goes into effect immediately.

Analysis

This legislation would allow O.J. Simpson to request any website to take down any personal information or images published of him since he was acquitted in the death of his wife. Similarly, Lee Harvey Oswald’s estate could ask that such information about him be removed from websites since law enforcement did not pursue his prosecution after he was killed in police custody. Personal information and images of Simpson or Oswald could be published in a book or be included in a documentary movie but would have to be removed from a website about that book or movie.

Privacy is an important right, but the Supreme Court has ruled that it is not a sufficiently compelling interest to overcome the right of free speech. In addition, this law would not serve the stated interest in the privacy of the person not convicted of a crime, because it only limits publication on the Internet. A person’s name, personal information or images can still be published in other media.

History

  • The bill was introduced [2] on January 8, 2014 and referred to House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs.
  • The committee held a hearing on the bill on January 14, 2014.
  • On January 28, 2014, Media Coalition sent a legal memo [1] to the members of the committee, explaining the constitutional issues with the bill.
  • On January 30, 2014, the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs amended [3] the bill to instead create a study committee. The committee recommended the bill be passed.
  • The House passed the bill as amended. It was sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
  • On April 3, 2014, the committee recommended the bill be passed. The bill was amended to define the members of the committee.
  • The Senate passed the bill as amended. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill as perfect on May 15, 2014.
  • On July 11, 2014, Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the bill into law. It goes into effect immediately.

Last updated: Sep 3, 2015