ISPs Take Aim at Maine Law

With bipartisan support for federal legislation, internet-service providers are pushing for a law that does not overregulate, particularly in what it defines as personal information warranting opt-in permission. But getting Congress to agree on anything is a stretch, so in the interim states are trying to fill what they see as a privacy regulatory void.

Preventing that “balkanized” approach is the second front, now on display in the pushback by major ISP trade associations this week against a Maine law that they say would put “incredibly burdensome and unprecedented restrictions” on ISPs, and ISPs alone.

The bill requires opt-in permission for what ISPs say is not sensitive personal information, an opt-out option for collection of data that is not personal at all, and preventing them from offering consumer-benefiting discounts or rewards.

The ISPs argue that such limitations are impermissible restrictions on how they communicate with their customers that are not “remotely tailored” to protecting consumer privacy and are thus unconstitutional restrictions on speech and is, as a result, an unconstitutional infringement on their speech.

Seeking to block implementation of the Maine law are the American Cable Association, USTelecom, CTIA-The Wireless Association and NCTA-The Internet & Television Association.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.