ISPs Sue Maine Digital Privacy Law

David Davies/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Maine implemented a strict privacy law—corporations are now claiming it violates their free speech

The suit claims the law infringes on their First Amendment rights.

Feb 19, 2020, 10:11 am*

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Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

Several groups representing internet service providers (ISPs) have sued Maine over its recently-passed digital privacy law, claiming that it infringes on their First Amendment rights.

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The suit was filed in the United States District Court District of Maine earlier this week. It was brought by ACA Connects–America’s Communications Association; CTIA–the Wireless Association; NCTA–the Internet and Television Association; and USTelecom–the Broadband Association.

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Maine’s law, the Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Consumer Information, was signed into law last year and is scheduled to take effect this summer. The law bars ISPs operating in Maine from “using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to customer personal information” unless a customer consents.

The information covered in the law includes: browsing history, app usage history, precise geolocation information, health information, information about customers’ children, customer communications, and the origin and destination of IP addresses, among other things.

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The lawsuit claims that the law “imposes unprecedented and unduly burdensome restrictions on ISPs, and only ISPs, protected speech.”

The suit calls for an injunction that would halt the enforcement of the law. It also argues that the law is preempted by federal laws.

“Maine’s decision to impose unique burdens on ISPs’ speech—while ignoring the online and offline businesses that have and use the very same information and for the same and similar purposes as ISPs—represents discrimination between similarly situated speakers that is impermissible under the First Amendment,” the suit reads.

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The suit argues that their First Amendment rights are violated because it “limits” ISPs from “advertising or marketing non-communications-related services to their customers; and prohibits ISPs from offering price discounts, rewards in loyalty programs, or other cost-saving benefits in exchange for a customer’s consent to use their personal information.”

Maine’s Attorney General’s office did not immediately return a request for comment by the Daily Dot. We’ll update this story if we hear back.

You can view the lawsuit below.

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*First Published: Feb 19, 2020, 9:11 am