Maine: The Next State To Secure Residents’ Online Privacy?

Maine online privacy lawOnline privacy is becoming a major state’s rights issue. Illinois lawmakers are well on their way to passing a digital data privacy law, and now it looks like Maine is following in The Prairie State’s footsteps.

Maine’s New Online Privacy Bill

A bipartisan proposal marshaled by state Sen. Shenna Bellows of Manchester, L.D. 1610 — a.k.a. “An Act To Protect Privacy of Online Customer Personal Information” — would require Internet Service Providers to secure consent before releasing users’ browsing data.

“This bill prohibits a provider of broadband Internet access service from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information unless the customer expressly consents to that use, disclosure, sale or access.”

Not only does the bill force providers to secure consent before sharing user data, but it also forbids discount for consent programs.

 “Absolutely Appalling”

In March, the United States Congress voted to trash incoming FCC rules prohibiting ISPs and websites from selling user data. Since then, digital privacy has quickly become a “state’s rights” issue. In fact, many jurisdictions are in the process of drafting their own versions of the now-defunct FCC rules.

Keen to avoid more administrative requirements, most ISPs breathed a sigh of relief when Congress killed the browsing privacy rules. Many residents, however, disagreed. In defense of constituents, state Sen. Bellows chastised federal lawmakers, lamenting that the “reckless vote” put “Mainers’ privacy up for sale.” In support of her bill, Bellows remonstrated:

“Most people are rightfully appalled by the idea that their Internet service provider could be watching their every move online and selling their information to the highest bidder. We owe it to our constituents to protect their privacy.”

Maine has a long way to go before L.D. 1610 becomes law — if it even makes it. But the first step on the ratification journey was a public hearing on May 24th.

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