AUGUSTA — Some state lawmakers want to pass a new law to keep Mainers’ internet browsing data private in response to a federal rule change allowing internet service providers to sell the web-browsing data of their customers to advertisers and others.

In March, Congress overturned a Federal Communications Commission rule banning ISPs from selling their customers’ online web-browsing data. The vote was seen by many as an affront to consumer privacy and state legislatures across the U.S. have started to pass laws to prohibit the practice.

The change by Congress has been criticized by some of Maine’s internet service providers, and in March Fletcher Kittredge, founder and CEO of Biddeford Internet Corp., which does business as GWI, called the shift “absolutely appalling” and a threat to everyone who uses the internet.

On Tuesday, Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, plans to hold a press conference to unveil a bill she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are supporting that would require an ISP to get a customer’s consent before it releases any customer’s browsing data.

“With its reckless vote, Congress put Mainers’ privacy up for sale,” Bellows said. “Most people are rightfully appalled by the idea that their Internet service provider could be watching their every move online and selling their information to the highest bidder. We owe it to our constituents to protect their privacy.”

Maine joins at least a dozen other states that are considering similar legislation.


“This bill prohibits a provider of broadband Internet access service from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information unless the customer expressly consents to that use, disclosure, sale or access,” the summary of the bill states. The bill also would prohibit an ISP from offering a discount for consent or a penalty for refusal to consent.

The bill, L.D. 1610, has the support of Democrats, Republicans and independent lawmakers in the both the House and Senate, including Bellows and Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon.

Also backing the Legislation are a pair of House Republicans, two independents in the House and two House Democrats.

Bellows and other lawmakers backing the bill are expected to speak about it Tuesday afternoon during the press conference following the Senate’s regularly scheduled session.

It was not immediately clear whether Republican Gov. Paul LePage would support the bill or not. A message to his office was not returned on Monday.

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