2024 Bills

HB 491: Raising the Privacy Bar for Government Entities

To track the status of this bill, find it on our Legislation Tracker. Click here to contact the sponsor of the bill to share your thoughts, or click here to email your Senator and Representative about it.

Libertas Institute supports this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it aligns with our principles and should therefore be passed into law.

In 2019, the Utah Legislature chose to start making 21st-century privacy a priority by protecting the data of its citizens even when held by a 3rd party through HB 57. Then, after the COVID pandemic and a rogue vendor attempted to create a public safety surveillance system, the legislature created an initial process in which the government’s use of data (beyond just law enforcement) would come under review through HB 243. Both of these actions made Utah a leader among the states in privacy.

Over the past two years, Representative Jefferson Moss has been working to take the next steps to protect the privacy of Utah residents by raising the bar for government entities that hold sensitive data of private citizens. Through HB 491, Utah would once again be a leader in this space.

HB 491 creates a Privacy Ombudsman, elevates the Personal Privacy Oversight Committee (renaming it the Utah Privacy Commission), brings teeth with a Utah Privacy Governing Board that includes important elected officials, and moves government entities to not only comply with the laws that already exist, but raise the standards by 2027.

Privacy and data in our new economy do not have to be mutually exclusive. By getting the guardrails in place and right early on, we will be prepared when far more sensitive data becomes available as we move into a world more connected to biometric information. The Fourth Amendment must matter from a criminal justice perspective, but privacy should also be important outside that context for other government entities as well.