Protecting Your Privacy: New Law Limits Driver’s License Swiping in Hawaii

Did a business just “swipe” your driver’s license or State ID?  Concerned about what’s going to happen to the personal information that was just scanned from your driver’s license barcode?

YOU SHOULD BE. Invasion of Privacy.  Identity theft.  Abuse of personal information.

A Hawaii driver’s license or state identification card barcode contains a lot of digitized personal information including your name, address, date of birth, hair color, eye color, height, weight, gender, license expiration date, organ donor status, driver’s license number, fingerprint, medical information, and driver classification code  – personal information that you shouldn’t have to share with the rest of the world.  Yet increasingly, private businesses are requiring you to show I.D. for everyday purchases – building massive databases of barcode information with every transaction.  Why? Because they could – until now.

On June 28, 2012, Hawaii passed a law limiting access to your driver’s license barcode. 

H.R.S. § 487J better protects your privacy by banning private businesses from scanning your driver’s license and collecting, storing, using and/or sharing the personal information contained in the barcode, except in limited circumstances.  Before the law passed, a business in Hawaii could swipe the barcode on your driver’s license for any reason, use it in any manner, including selling the information to third parties for marketing, advertising, or promotional activities, and keep your information for as long as it wanted.

Read the text of the bill:

Read the legislative summary of the bill:


Q: What information can a business swipe from my driver’s license or ID card barcode?

A: When permitted, a business may collect ONLY your name, address, date of birth, and license number or ID card number.

Q: When is it legal for a business to scan the barcode on my ID?

A: Hawaii law bans businesses from scanning your driver’s license barcode except in the following cases:

    • There is a reasonable doubt that you are under 18 years of age and you are buying age restricted goods or services, like cigarettes, alcohol, Nicorette gum, mature video games, or cold medicines;
    • You pay for something with a credit or debit card, return an item or request a refund or an exchange and the business wants to verify your identity or the authenticity of your driver’s license;
    • The business is establishing or maintaining a contract with you, like a cell-phone plan contract.

Q: Does the new law prohibit a company from making a photocopy of my ID? 

A: No. The law only restricts the scanning of the barcode information.

Q. Can a business sell my information to a third party?

A. Not under the new law.

Q: Is a business allowed to keep my information or send it to another organization?

A. In most cases, no.  However, a business can retain the information or send it to an outside agency in a few cases:

    • If required by state or federal law
    • for the use of a fraud prevention service company or system
    • To establish or maintain a contractual relationship
    • To transmit information to a consumer reporting agency, financial institution, or debt collector as permitted by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, or the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
    • To record, retain, or transmit information by a covered entity governed by the medical privacy and security rules as established by the Department of Health and Human Services

Q. Which stores in Hawaii use driver’s license scanners? 

A. Any store that uses The Retail Equation’s return authorization solutions.If you know of more stores, please tell us! (list as of 7/24/12). The ACLU of Hawaii recently sent a letter to the General Managers of each Hawaii store known to be affected by this new law, read the letter here.

    • Famous Footwear
    • Victoria’s Secret
    • Finish Line
    • 7-11
    • Best Buy
    • Target
    • Walmart
    • Verizon
    • AT&T

Q: What should I do if I think that my license is being scanned illegally?

A: If you believe that a business is illegally scanning drivers’ licenses, notify the Hawaii State Office of Consumer Protection at  You can also contact the ACLU of Hawaii