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States Doubling Down on #BroadbandPrivacy After Congress Sells Out

Minnesota and Illinois introduce legislation to protect user information from being sold to third parties

"People are looking to us now to provide protections for consumers," state Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago). (Photo: barnimages.com/flickr/cc)

The growing backlash to federal rollback of regulations continued this week, as Minnesota and Illinois both made moves to protect internet privacy after Congress voted to let broadband providers sell user data to third parties without permission.

In what the Pioneer Press called a "surprise move" on Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate voted to bar internet service providers (ISPs) from selling customer data without their written consent.

State Sen. Ron Latz with the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL-St.Louis Park) introduced the legislation as an amendment to the Senate's economic development budget bill, saying a vote on internet privacy was urgently needed after Congress overturned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule this week that previously blocked ISPs from sharing information with third parties.

After clearing some procedural hurdles with the help of Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove), who broke with his party to support the amendment's introduction on the Senate floor rather than going through committee, the bill passed 58-9.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers in Illinois considered implementing their own internet privacy rules in response to the congressional vote.

An Illinois House committee endorsed two online privacy measures, including one that would allow users to find out what data internet companies like Google and Facebook have on them and which third parties they've shared it with.

"People are looking to us now to provide protections for consumers," state Rep. Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), who proposed the right-to-know bill, said Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, told the AP that legislation like this was necessary because of the now "razor-thin" line between government and private interests, who can sell data to federal agencies.

"This is a new age and privacy really means a completely different thing," Yohnka said.

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