Now that the US federal government doesn’t care about internet privacy, states are stepping in

Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke
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US president Donald Trump is expected to sign a bill that would essentially allow internet providers to sell their customers’ browsing history to advertisers. The bill blocks privacy regulations that were imposed by the Obama administration near the end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

The bill passed Congress on Tuesday (Mar. 28), and by the end of the week, lawmakers in Minnesota and Illinois had already introduced legislation to counter the law on the state level.

State senator Ron Latz of Minnesota introduced an amendment to an economic development budget bill on Wednesday; the amendment would prohibit internet providers in the state from selling their customers’ data without written consent. The Senate voted to add the amendment to the bill on a 66-1 vote, which drew bipartisan support.

Senator Warren Limmer, a Republican, told the Pioneer Press that the issue “urgently needs to be addressed.”

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

On Thursday, a House committee in Illinois approved two measures that would tighten privacy restrictions in the state, though neither bars internet providers from selling customer data. One would require internet providers and companies like Facebook and Google to disclose any data they’ve collected on their users, for any user who requests it. The other would prohibit apps from tracking user locations without express consent.

“People are looking to us now to provide protections for consumers,” said state representative Arthur Turner at the state house on Thursday.

In both states, the measures still have to be voted on in both houses before they’re sent to the state’s governors to sign them into law.