After Congress Trashes Internet Privacy Rule, One State May Adopt Its Own

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The House and Senate both voted in March to toss out the FCC’s rule limiting what your internet service provider can do with your personal data without your consent. That resolution now awaits only the President’s signature before we lose protection at a federal level. One state, though, is already fighting back with a new rule of its own.

In Minnesota, the state Senate this week put an amendment in its budget that would prevent any ISP operating in the state from collecting personal information from its subscribers unless they have the customers’ permission.

The amendment specifically says that, “No telecommunications or internet service provider that has entered into a franchise agreement, right-of-way agreement, or other contract” with either the state or a “political subdivision” like a county, nor any provider that uses someone else’s facilities in Minnesota that are subject to those agreements, “may collect personal information from a customer resulting from the customer’s use of the telecommunications or internet service provider without express written approval from the customer.”

Nor can an ISP refuse to provide service for a customer who opts out, the amendment continues, thus preventing companies from trying to take advantage of a major loophole.

MORE: Without internet privacy rules, how can I protect my data?

The amendment, like the FCC’s rule before it, does not explicitly ban charging extra in pay-for-privacy arrangements like AT&T tried for a while or Comcast has considered.

The amendment first had to pass a procedural hurdle in order to be added to the state Senate’s economic development budget bill, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press explains.

Once it was added, however, the Senate overwhelmingly agreed to approve it, voting 66-1 to add it to the bill.

The budget, including the privacy amendment, then passed the Senate with another large majority, 58-9. It now has to go through a reconciliation process with the Minnesota’s House version of the budget, which also includes an extremely similar privacy provision. (The House version is pretty much the same in the first half, but does not include the language saying that no company can refuse to provide service just because the customer opts out of having their data collected.)

Once the state’s bicameral bodies knock out an agreement, the final version heads to the governor’s desk for a signature or veto.

[via DSL Reports]

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