California AG Announces Privacy Enforcement Unit. On July 19, California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced the creation of the Privacy Enforcement and Protection Unit. The unit will combine the various existing privacy functions of the California Department of Justice to centrally enforce and protect consumer privacy. The unit will pursue civil prosecution of state and federal privacy laws regulating the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of private or sensitive information by individuals, organizations, and the government. These include laws relating to cyber privacy, financial privacy, identity theft, and data breaches, among others. The new unit will reside within the eCrime Unit, which was created in December 2011 to identify and prosecute identity theft crimes, cyber-crimes and other crimes involving the use of technology.
California Expands Servicemember Protections. On July 13, California enacted AB 2476, which expands the period of time during which servicemembers are protected from high interest rates. Under current law, a creditor cannot charge, during a servicemember’s period of military service, an interest rate in excess of 6% on any obligation or liability incurred by a servicemember before that person’s entry into service. The bill expands the interest rate protections to prevent an increase in any such rate on a mortgage, trust deed, or other security in the nature of a mortgage for one year after the period of military service.
Hawaii Enacts Multiple Mortgage-Related Bills and Legislation to Protect Personal Information. Recently, Hawaii enacted a set of bills related to mortgage origination and servicing. With regard to mortgage origination, S.B. 2763 amends the state SAFE Act to reflect changes to the federal law and to adjust originator registration fees. With regard to mortgage servicers, H.B. 2502 allows the Commissioner of Financial Institutions to require registration with the NMLS and makes it unlawful for a servicer to provide loan modifications without first complying with certain licensing requirements. Another bill, H.B. 1875 makes numerous changes to the state’s foreclosure laws, largely implementing recommendations from the Mortgage Foreclosure Task Force created by the state legislature in 2010. Finally, with regard to mortgages, H.B. 2375 establishes criminal penalties for certain violations of the state’s Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act. Hawaii also recently enacted S.B. 2419, which prohibits businesses from scanning a customer’s identification card or driver’s license with an electronic device capable of obtaining information electronically encoded on that identification card, except for specific purposes.