Augusta – The Maine Senate today voted 35-0 to pass a bill that will give Mainers some of the strongest internet privacy protections in the nation. The House earlier voted 96-45 in favor of the bill. LD 946 requires consumer consent before internet service providers (ISPs) can sell their private data to third parties. The bill now goes to Gov. Mills for her signature.
ISPs have access to an extensive amount of consumers’ personal information, including every website they visit, the times they log into and out of their accounts, and even some location data. Taken together, this information can paint an intimate picture of everything from an individual’s political beliefs to their health care needs.
The personal information ISPs collect and sell is increasingly being used by advertisers to discriminate against certain communities. Advertisers and data brokers are increasingly using data to decide what prices to advertise to someone, the content they should steer them to, and even the types of loans to offer them.
In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) promulgated a rule requiring ISPs to get customer permission to use or sell their personal information. However, Congress overturned the rule after extensive lobbying by ISPs like Verizon and Comcast. LD 946 would put those protections in place for people in Maine.
The following can be attributed to Oamshri Amarasingham, advocacy director at the ACLU of Maine:
“Today, the Maine legislature did what the United States Congress has thus far failed to do and voted to put consumer privacy before corporate profits. Nobody should have to choose between using the Internet and protecting their own data. Lest we forget, internet providers work for us. We pay them – a lot – for their services, and it is outrageous that they would turn around and sell our most private information without our consent.”