The right to privacy is a fundamental human right, even when it comes to corporate or industrial spying, state Rep. Jay Barnes told a House panel Thursday.
He presented four bills before the committee that aim to protect the privacy of Missourians.
The bill that faced the most opposition was one that would prohibit the sharing of personally identifiable information - including the purchasing history - of Missourians without their consent.
It defines personally identifiable information as "any information that identifies, relates to, describes, or is capable of being associated with a consumer."
Barnes, R-Jefferson City, said the law would especially come into play with big-box retailers, such as Walmart.
"Your purchasing history is tracked by that retailer, which is OK, especially when it's used to learn what customers like and do," Barnes said. "Some data is packaged together and sent to data brokers, and they repackage it and sell to any willing buyer."
He doesn't think Missourians have expectations of privacy for buying things such as cars and houses, but they do for pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs.
"I don't think people want that information shared far and wide," he said.
Barnes' bill doesn't include how consent for sharing information can be obtained, but he's open to amending the legislation.
No one testified in favor of the bill, but many in opposition believe retailers are already doing enough to protect consumers' information.
David Overfelt, president of the Missouri Retailers Association and a lobbyist for the Missouri Grocers Association, said retailers spend billions of dollars a year to protect consumers and their information.
"I think you'd be amazed at what we're doing," Overfelt said. "It's a war we're conducting here. We're not the bad guy. We're trying to protect what's right and do what's right."
Richard Brownlee, a lobbyist for State Farm Insurance and Google, believes the issue should be addressed nationally or internationally, not by individual states.
"In order to control the privacy concern, you end up dealing so much in interstate commerce, international commerce," he said. "That's the problem of drafting something so sensible."
Mark Rhodes, a representative with LexisNexis, thinks the legislation should be more consistent with other states.
"I think's it's a dangerous precedent to take Missouri and stand it alone on laws such as this," he said. "It puts Missouri at a disadvantage."
Barnes presented three other privacy bills to the committee.
One would remove from Missouri law the requirement that an individual only be notified when their first and last name are included in a data breach.
"Right now, Missouri, if not every state, has a law in which companies that hold information of Americans notify the public if there is a breach in information," Barnes said.
He said in Missouri, the public has to be notified only if a breach occurs with the first and last name of an individual and one other piece of data or information.
Barnes' bill would require notification of data breaches including information such as addresses or Social Security number, even without the breach of first and last name.
Another bill would protect the privacy of Missourians' driving history by suggesting that data recorded on a vehicle black box is property of individuals and may only be sent to other parties in certain circumstances.
"I will admit, this bill doesn't go as far as I'd like, but I'm interested in taking steps forward in terms of privacy," Barnes said.
A black box is device in most newer model vehicles that tracks various data, such as miles driven or your location. It's also used to track what transpires in accidents.
A fourth bill would protect the privacy of health information - as well as other information - shared with health insurance exchange navigators.
Navigators are individuals licensed through the state to provide assistance for individuals applying for health insurance coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace at healthcare.gov.
The proposed legislation states that a "navigator must maintain a bond in an amount no less than $100,000 from an insurer" to "protect individuals from wrongful acts, misrepresentations, errors, omissions, or negligence of the navigator."
The Missouri Association of Insurance Agents went on record in support of the bill. No one spoke in opposition.