A new law, specifically focusing on Internet Service Providers (ISPs), is likely to soon be enacted in the US state of Maine.
Both Maine’s House and Senate have now passed the privacy bill described as the strictest in all of the United States.
And it appears that local legislators are picking their battles wisely. The focused is on ISPs as the inevitable step that each internet user has to take in order to get online – and ones who are increasingly willing to make more money than merely by charging for their own services, by monetizing personal data of users.
But, legislators have come under criticism from those arguing that leaving out Big Tech would limit the scope and usefulness of the privacy protections afforded to users in this state.
However, the sponsor of the Maine legislation, Senator Shenna Bellows (D), said a new bill would address this issue next – but did well to point out that ISPs are the first and unavoidable step for all internet users, unlike the various social network.
One of the strengths of the Main bill, unlike a similar, privacy-friendly legislative effort in California recently – that does cover Facebook, Google, and others – is that giving up personal data is opt-in, instead of opt-out.
This means that ISPs and large carriers, like AT&T can go ahead and monetize their users’ personal data only after explicitly asking – and obtaining explicit permission. In other words, data “sharing” won’t be the default state of affairs, with the opt-out buried somewhere in the layers of other options, virtually undiscoverable.
The report makes a point of noting that the Maine House vote passed 96-45, with nine Republicans joining Democrats.
The bill is set to take effect in July 2020 and is closely modeled on the nation-wide FCC net neutrality rules, abandoned in 2017, which would have prevented ISPs from trading with their users’ sensitive data without their awareness or consent.
Some critics of the Maine push for privacy, however, note that it will be also limited due to applying only to one state.