Internet service providers (ISP) are suing the state of Maine to prevent a law designed to protect consumer privacy from going into effect.
In June 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a law designed to prevent ISPs from “the use, sale, or distribution of a customer’s personal information by internet providers without the express consent of the customer.” The law had bipartisan support and passed the state senate unanimously.
According to Ars Technica, the data covered by the law includes “Web-browsing history, application-usage history, precise geolocation data, the content of customers’ communications, IP addresses, device identifiers, financial and health information, and personal details used for billing.” All of the above data is extremely valuable to ISPs, giving them plenty of motivation to fight the law.
The lawsuit cites the First Amendment and the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. The ISPs say their First Amendment rights will be violated by their being limited from advertising and marketing to their customers. They say the law violates the Supremacy Clause because a prohibition against sharing data would prevent the ISPs from cooperating with federal agencies.
Given that a recent court ruling allows states to set laws governing privacy and net neutrality, laws that may go beyond those the federal government enacts, the ISPs may have an uphill battle winning their case. It’s probably a safe bet the citizens of Maine are rooting against them.