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:

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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  1. giles_wells

    “Furthermore, it forbids these ISPs and telecoms from refusing to provide service to someone that refuses to approve the collection of their personal data”

    This to me means that it still leaves the door open to charge those customers more for a non-tracked ISP hookup.

    2 years ago
    1. Nsanemindz

      Kind of what AT&T does with their internet GB services. When it was first released, in order to receive promotional pricing you had to sign an agreement saying they can give out your information to marketing agencies and whoever else.

      2 years ago
      1. diy crafts

        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:

        2 years ago
    2. Lorde Aldrin Grande

      catfish and carp?

      2 years ago
  2. my eyes are hungry

    ISPs will still do it and just hope to not get caught. Then if they do, deny knowledge of it, claim it was improper coding on their part and then pay a small fine (less than the profits that he got from doing it)

    2 years ago
    1. pan da

      Yes. I think what the actual law is has very little bearing on how they will operate outside of discretion.

      2 years ago
    2. Japzone

      It’s sad that I can see this happening.

      2 years ago
  3. Soraya Xel

    Love how this is carefully written to avoid actually protecting people’s privacy: It doesn’t restrict Google or Facebook’s behaviors at all.

    2 years ago
    1. Gilbert Maldonado

      You don’t NEED to use facebook or google. But in this day you NEED internet access and most people lack any real option when it comes to broadband. Let that sink in.

      2 years ago
      1. Soraya Xel

        This is mostly a false comparison. Google is nearly inescapable. Google Analytics is embedded in almost every website and there is no way to escape it. I have three broadband ISP options to choose from, but escaping Google tracking is only possible by leaving the Internet.

        Unfortunately, this laws’ supporters are likely heavily funded by Google, and looking forward to the elimination of competitors.

        2 years ago
        1. Tim Ramos

          Use the hidden wiki

          2 years ago
        2. sl3xx

          You know how to escape it? You just don’t load the js. There are chrome and firefox extensions that will do this for you.

          2 years ago
        3. Ralazar

          If the websites that you go to are using Google Analytics, then that data belongs to the websites, not to Google. You think Google is somehow putting their Analytics onto other people’s websites? The website developers are doing it so that they can learn about who goes onto their site.

          Similar to Facebook’s “Like” button, but that’s somewhat of a Trojan horse because the data that it collects is actually Facebook’s.

          2 years ago
          1. Soraya Xel

            Data collected by Google Analytics does, in fact, go to Google. And is Google’s data.

            2 years ago
        4. Japzone

          uBlock Origin and I would like to disagree with you…

          2 years ago
  4. Jan Vickery Lillemo

    I don’t mean to be dumb, but how will the Internet know we’re in Minnesota so they leave our private information alone? Or is it tied to our internet service providers?

    2 years ago
    1. Kelsey Werner

      Your connection to the internet has a address just like your home does (its called an IP address!), and as long as you aren’t using a vpn to mask your IP adress or alter it in some manner your connection will know from where it originates.

      2 years ago
    2. Azix

      Its the ISP that collects the information.

      2 years ago
    3. Japzone

      It’s tied to your Local ISP since that’s the main concern here.

      2 years ago
  5. Flyingchipmunk

    Too bad the Federal Bill probably preempts all State rules and makes this just a feel good vote. I’ll be happy, and happy to eat my words, if this isn’t the case though.

    2 years ago
    1. Japzone

      No, the repeal means that there are no rules, which is why everyone is upset. There’s nothing there to override State laws.

      2 years ago
  6. Gerry Gaudet

    Ah, lawmakers looking out for “the people” Three cheers

    2 years ago
  7. Japzone

    Never thought I’d consider moving to Minnesota….

    2 years ago
    1. Marnee DeRider

      Just after 11/9, my son and I said, “Well, at least we live in MN.” We figure that it will go down last of all the states.
      There is still bipartisan cooperation here, and some sane heads. There was a petition shortly after 11/9 for MN to secede from the US and join Canada. Made the map look weird, I must say. I’m not super happy with Canada right now, either, though.

      2 years ago
  8. Elizabeth Barbour

    Hopefully my state PA will follow suit…………

    2 years ago
  9. Marshall Brown

    I fail to see how an Internet service provider differs significantly from the older telephone system. The system provided a connection from point A to point B and was not privy to the contents of the communication passing through it. It was a fees paid service. I pay for my Internet connection in the same manner and the communications using the Internet should be private. Those services that have a reasonable claim to using some of my information pay for it by way of services for which I typically do not pay.

    2 years ago
    1. Lucky Bradley

      The fact that you don’t see a difference in ISPs compared to the older telephone system shows you don’t understand what an ISP is or the type of data it uses. It would be more apt to say that the old telephone system recorded who you talked to, when you talked to, what you ordered, what you looked at and put them all together in a file.

      The information that is being collected by ISPs is closer to wiretaps done by police and federal agents which needed a court order and a warrant to do so (and only after some sort of proof indicating there is a danger). That is the difference.

      I would recommend do some research on google.

      2 years ago
  10. Eenkling

    Every state should make this rule.

    2 years ago
  11. 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*

    2 years ago
  12. Gus diZerega

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

    2 years ago
    1. Lawng~Dawng

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

      2 years ago
      1. Gus diZerega


        2 years ago
  13. 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.

    2 years ago
  14. 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

    2 years ago
  15. 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?**


    **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!**

    2 years ago