Minnesota Senate votes 58-9 to pass Internet privacy protections in response to repeal of FCC privacy rules

Posted on Mar 29, 2017 by Caleb Chen
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internet privacy rights in minnesota

In stark contrast to Congress’s recent vote against the Internet privacy rights of American constituents, Minnesota’s state Senators have voted to add broadband privacy protections at the state level. The protections were added in an amendment to S.F. No. 1937, the Minnesota economic development budget bill, by Minnesota State Sen. Latz. This Internet privacy amendment was introduced as a direct response to the Tuesday 215-205 vote by the House of Representatives for S.J.Res. 34. FCC Internet privacy rules would have come into effect at the end of 2016 and would have forced Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms to get permission before selling your private internet history or app data usage, which they also don’t consider sensitive information. These telecoms and ISPs have long been hard at work to dismantle Internet privacy with their words and money – but they have now been stopped in one more state.

In direct response to Congress, Minnesota passes Internet privacy protections

Once this bill passes in the Minnesota House and is signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton, ISPs will be required to obtain “express written approval from the customer” before collecting customer information from their users. Furthermore, it forbids these ISPs and telecoms from refusing to provide service to someone that refuses to approve the collection of their personal data; which, if the online reaction to the repeal of FCC privacy rules is any show of, is a lot of people. The full text of the amendment to S.F. No. 1937 is:

Sec. 17. [237.417] PERSONAL INFORMATION; PROHIBITION.
No telecommunications or internet service provider that has entered into a franchise agreement, right-of-way agreement, or other contract with the state of Minnesota or a political subdivision, or that uses facilities that are subject to such agreements, even if it is not a party to the agreement, 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. No such telecommunication or internet service provider shall refuse to provide its services to a customer on the grounds that the customer has not approved collection of the customer’s personal information. EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Minnesota State Sen. Limmer, a Republican, said to Twin Cities Pioneer Press:

“We should be outraged at the invasion that’s being allowed on our most intimate means of communication.”

Private Internet Access would like to commend the Minnesota politicians that stood up for what their constituents truly care about. Now that S.J.Res. 34 has passed, fighting for Internet privacy is increasingly happening at the state level instead. As Conor Dougherty wrote in The New York Times earlier this week: Push for Internet Privacy Rules Moves to Statehouses.

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About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master's in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor's from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.

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36 Comments

  1. Charles Schafer

    Trump and the GOP want our data? Let them drown in it!

    I want to mail a ton of “data” to President Trump and I need your help Reddit.

    People often say “a ton of this” or “a ton of that”. It’s usually what we call figurative speech. Not today. I want to mail our fair President a literal ton of paper – of the shredded variety.

    **Are you a crazy?**

    Maybe.

    **OK – you may or may not be a crazy person. Why would I want to give you money to mail President Trump a bunch of paper?**

    On Monday, President Donald Trump signed legislation killing privacy rules that would have required internet service providers to get your explicit consent before they share or sell your web browsing history and other sensitive information.

    Apparently, what we’re currently watching on Netflix and what color underwear we just ordered on Amazon is highly valued information for the Telecom companies. They’re bursting at the seams to get this information. They can practically taste our underwear.

    **That’s pretty scary on a few levels. Why does my ISP care that I binge-watch Orange Is the New Black on weekends?**

    “Your home broadband provider can know when you wake up each day—either by knowing the time each morning that you log on to the Internet to check the weather/news of the morning, or through a connected device in your home,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said during Senate floor debate yesterday. “And that provider may know immediately if you are not feeling well—assuming you decide to peruse the Internet like most of us to get a quick check on your symptoms. In fact, your broadband provider may know more about your health—and your reaction to illness—than you are willing to share with your doctor. “Home Internet providers can also “build a profile about your listening and viewing habits,” while mobile broadband providers “know how you move about your day through information about your geolocation and Internet activity through your mobile device,” he said.

    “This is a gold mine of data—the holy grail so to speak,”said Nelson. “It is no wonder that broadband providers want to be able to sell this information to the highest bidder without consumers’ knowledge or consent. And they want to collect and use this information without providing transparency or being held accountable.”

    **The thing is, nobody wanted this.**

    “The only people in the United States who want less internet privacy are CEOs and lobbyists for giant telecom companies who want to rake in money by spying on all of us and selling the private details of our lives to marketing companies.” – Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future

    Whether or not you appreciate his schtick, I think comedian/Late Show host Stephen Colbert sums up many of our feelings when he said; “I guarantee you there’s not one person — not one voter of any political stripe anywhere in America, who asked for this. No one in America stood up in a town hall and said, ‘Sir, I demand you let somebody else make money off my shameful desires. Maybe blackmail me someday!’”

    And a lot of money it is indeed! Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) one of the key proponents of this repeal was gifted $693,000 from the telecom industry. She is not the only one being made richer by the special interests groups hell-bent on profiting from our personal information. It seems a whopping $8,121,535 has been gifted between the House and Senate in this election cycle alone!

    **OK – I’m sold. Trump and the GOP are traitors but you still didn’t tell me why you want to mail President Trump a ton of paper.**

    While we cannot reverse the traitorous breach of privacy now imposed on us all by the GOP lead House and Senate along with their fearful leader Trump, I propose to send President Trump one ton of paper as an act of discontent to this despicable act. Unlike the six hundred people whose campaigns pretend buying Congress’ Internet data would ever be a thing, this is something that has a possibility of happening; something that will be noticed and bring attention to this miscarriage of justice that has occurred that affects almost every single American.

    **Why a ton of paper? Shouldn’t you send him a ton of personal data in this tongue and cheek act of protest?**

    No. Buying a literal ton of personal data would be disingenuous to the spirit of this demonstration.

    **This seems like a fantastic idea. What can I do to help?**

    Welcome aboard! I probably don’t have to tell you that paper and transport isn’t free.
    I have done some preliminary enquiring and it will cost approximately $3000 USD to buy a ton of paper and have it sent to the White House. I will donate $500 USD of my own money if we can make this petty dream a reality.

    If donations do not meet my goal, I will donate the entirety of donations to Electronic Frontier Foundation and/or a similar privacy advocacy group(s). If by some miracle of the Gods of malicious compliance we go over, I will make the decision whether or not to send even more paper as well as donating the rest.

    **Here’s a link to the [gofundme](https://www.gofundme.com/trump-wants-data-let-him-have-it) – Let’s do it Reddit!**

    3 years ago
  2. MOPstr

    This action by Minnesota highlights the fact that it is worth something like $400 per person to have access to personal internet data. The Federal law was a taking of property without due process of law = theft from the public to enrich the plutocracy.
    Minnesota has preserved this value for Minnesota. There is no reason that every single state should not enact the Minnesota law

    3 years ago
  3. Theresa

    These freaks in the government are not going to succeed in controlling the population. I say we all give them the finger and demand they are treated the same way and that all their communications be available under the FOIA. You dig in my stuff I dig in yours. I pay your salary and I am damn sure you don’t pay mine.

    3 years ago
  4. Gus diZerega

    Hopefully this will inspire other states to do the same. Are you listening Sacramento? Albany? Olympia? Santa fe? Denver? etc.

    3 years ago
    1. Lawng~Dawng

      Olympia’s listening. I’m going to the capitol tomorrow.

      3 years ago
      1. Gus diZerega

        🙂

        3 years ago
  5. Jayson

    Great. Now we can’t get the state politicians web browsing histories. Only the perverts have something to fear. Looks like 58 are the perverts.

    *sarcasm by the way*

    3 years ago