Wow, talk about a Maine-wave: US state says ISPs need permission to flog netizens' personal data

What a radical idea

Annapolis in Maine

Maine is about to become the latest US state to – and get this – mandate that ISPs obtain subscribers' permission before selling their data to advertisers.

The state's senate this week unanimously passed SP 275, a law bill that forbids broadband service providers from peddling information on customers' browsing habits unless they give their consent first.

The bill covers a range of customer information, including contact details such as addresses and phone numbers, as well as their internet usage details: think browsing and app history, geolocation coordinates, MAC numbers, and IP addresses.

Additionally, the proposed law forbids ISPs from charging customers a penalty or offering them a discount on their service based on whether or not they opt in to having their data sold to advertisers.

"A provider may use, disclose, sell or permit access to information the provider collects pertaining to a customer that is not customer personal information, except upon written notice from the customer notifying the provider that the customer does not permit the provider to use, disclose, sell or permit access to that information," the bill declares.

SP 275 is now awaiting Governor Janet Mills' signature, which is likely to be granted given it passed comfortably in both the state house and senate.

Once signed in, the law will add Maine to the ranks of US states that have passed their own ISP data privacy laws in the wake of the 2017 congressional decision to allow service providers free rein to sell off customer data records to third parties.

Not surprisingly, the passage of the bill was met with warm applause by Maine's local ACLU chapter.

"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," said ACLU Maine advocacy director Oamshri Amarasingham.

"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." ®




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