LD 946 Would Require Internet Providers to Get Consent Before Profiting Off Consumers’ Personal Data

Augusta – The Senate today passed a bill that will put urgently needed privacy protections in place for Maine Internet users. LD 946, sponsored by Sen. Shenna Bellows (D-Kennebec), would require internet service providers that do business in Maine to get their customers’ permission before selling their data to third parties like insurance providers and advertisers. It was passed without a roll call vote.

Internet service providers (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, Maine Senators did what the United States Congress has thus far failed to do. They 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, ISPs work for us. We pay them loads of money for their services, and it is outrageous that they would turn around and sell our most private information without our consent.”

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