back to article Wow, talk about a Maine-wave: US state says ISPs need permission to flog netizens' personal data

Maine is about to become the latest US state to – and get this – mandate that ISPs obtain subscribers' permission before selling their data to advertisers. The state's senate this week unanimously passed SP 275, a law bill that forbids broadband service providers from peddling information on customers' browsing habits unless …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Why?

    Is there such a huge discrepancy between state senates and Congress and the US senate and the value and sovereignty of individual's private data?

    One could almost be tempted to think someone is being paid off.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      It's actually a Constitutional quirk. The feral states have quite a bit of leeway in what they can do within their own borders even if American's Native Criminal Class does nothing but collect their bribes aka donations at the feral level.Part of this is the Colonial legacy were each colony was officially administered directly from London and there was no Colonial period common administrative body. Also 3 states were independent countries before becoming states: Vermont, Hawaii, and Texas.

      1. Kev99

        Re: Why?

        a_yank_lurker: You left out the Bear Republic of California, plus 13 other very short lived republics.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Because smaller units of government are more responsive

        "Because smaller units of government are more responsive to the people they are supposed to serve."

        But I thought that was all sorted by allowing the People's Will to 'legitimately' possess and carry assault rifles and that kind of constitutional thing.

        Or have I been misinformed? Or misunderstood?

        I mean if an assault rifle doesn't make government more responsive, what will?

        An orange-flavoured nukular assault rifle?

        1. Public Citizen

          Re: Because smaller units of government are more responsive

          You've been listening to too many of the semi-literate talking heads in media.

          Fact: Private Citizens in the United States do not legally posses military grade weapons, A.K.A. assault weapons" [which is a made up term, invented by media pundits as a scare tactic] without going through the same lengthy and expensive process as that to obtain a license for a machine gun.

          The civilian weapons may look similar but they are missing certain key components, which can't even be fitted to the civilian model frames [properly called the Lower Receiver] without precision machine work [of an unlawful nature] being performed.

          The civilian model semi-automatic weapons that the media mis-labels require a pull of the trigger for every single round to be fired, unlike the military grade weapons which have a selector mechanism that permits either 3 round burst or full automatic fire in addition to the single round firing capability.

          The civilian firearms look from the exterior the same as the military firearms because modern ergonomics and production design have advanced from the days of carved chunks of wood and metal components produced by individual machining processes. Compare a modern electric drill with its WWII era counterpart. The modern tool looks different not just because of changes in technology that permit battery operation but because of changes in materials, manufacturing technology, and most importantly, our understanding of ergonomics. The same principles apply to modern firearms.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Compare a modern electric drill with its WWII era counterpart.

            No. Don't do that. It's utterly irrelevant to the topic at hand (but so is this post :))

            "The civilian model semi-automatic weapons that the media mis-labels require a pull of the trigger for every single round to be fired"

            OK. So how fast is that, even in unskilled hands, given suitable bits of bent metal and plastic, based around springs and similar lowtech parts?

            Well, watch this and see for yourself (nb SFW):

            Remember: "a pull of the trigger for every single round to be fired," (or maybe not)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2IOZ-5Nk5k&feature=youtu.be&t=318

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      A rhetorical question, perhaps, but one with a real and important answer: Because smaller units of government are more responsive to the people they are supposed to serve. A primary cause of this is that it is far more expensive to lobby 50 (or 20 or 20,000) legislatures than to lobby one, and success is likely to be hit and miss even so. When someone can mount a successful campaign against you for a few thousand dollars even without party approval, siding with corporate lobbyists in the face of near-universal citizen opposition is political suicide. Nothing a lobbyist is going to offer for your one vote is worth ending your career. This is one of many reasons federalism was, and is, a much better idea than the one size fits all approach of letting Congress overrule everyone else.

      1. Marshalltown

        Re: Why?

        The Federal politicians like to imagine they are "big picture" types and the citizenry are peons that lack adequate brain cells to think through the information and implications available on political issues, even if they really have the education. Big picture types tend to take decidely oligarchic slant, because they are making the country prosperous one bribe at a time, and money speaks loudly, especially in the most populaous states.

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        That's the principle of subsifiarity: in short, every decision should be taken at the lowest level that is practically possible.

        It's a core principle of liberal democracy.

        Incidentally it also works well for any organisation eg companies not just governments

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Each state is its own sovereign territory (the governor is the equivalent of the "president" of the state, which is why they have a lot of power in the federal government) and can set its own laws as it wants to, with certain exceptions (such as interstate commerce). The federal government is really all of the states coordinating with each other.

      1. Thunderpants

        Re: Why?

        I think of it like Europe with member countries being the equivalent of States.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          "I think of it like Europe with member countries being the equivalent of States"

          Some European politicians have such a vision for Europe. However that could not ever work in the same way as the US. EU member countries have far more power and scope for independent action than US states, and most of them want to keep it that way (or even claw back some of the minimal power they have ceded to Brussels)

          EU member countries have a lot of history as independent countries and with it go differences in culture, language and politics that cannot be easily bridged by a federal state. In the US, on the other hand it's a relative piece of piss, with e (mostly) common language and (mostly) common culture. USA-ians identify as Americans first and (whatever state)-ians second. I have never met anyone from any European country who identified themselves as 'European' rather than from their native/home country.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Why?

            USA-ians identify as Americans first and (whatever state)-ians second.

            You can't have met many Texans.

            1. VikiAi Silver badge
              Headmaster

              Re: You can't have met many Texans.

              Yeah, but those aren't USA-ians, they are Texans.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Why?

      One could almost be tempted to think someone is being paid off.

      You're definately not from Illinois or any of the states on this list... http://fortune.com/2014/06/10/most-corrupt-states-in-america/

      Corruption in America, it's a way of life for most of the rich folk, savvy?

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Why?

      federal vs local - it's an ongoing problem. Although the federal laws will very likely take precedence [since it's "interstate" and "international" commerce involved here] it's obviously the will of THE PEOPLE to have privacy protection.

      So Con-Grab (particularly "the Washington D.C. establishment") need to GET A FEELING CLUE and STOP IT with stupid legislation that allows companies to violate citizens' privacy. Similar with the 'can spam' act and the way the 'do not call list' has been repeatedly fumbled...

      I wouldn't blame Republicans or specific U.S presidents for this. The main problem is in the "Washington D.C. establishment" which includes the 'chamber of commerce' and a LOT of well funded special interest lobbying organizations. RINO Republicans, most of the Democrats, and most of the U.S. presidents have more or less been 'on board' with these people. You can tell who was NOT on board, by the criticism that's thrown at them. In other words, who's for "the new world order" and who isn't... THAT is the litmus test! And politicians being who they are, they must bow to their masters to get elected... except for some of them, who receive criticism from ALL angles for doing the right thing.

      1. Alan_Peery

        There is no interstate commerce involved here

        The contract is between the Maine customer, and the ISP providing service to that customer *in Maine*. It doesn't matter where the corporate HQ for that business is, or where web pages the customer is reading are served from.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        RINO Republicans, most of the Democrats, and most of the U.S. presidents have more or less been 'on board' with these people.

        Fucking hell, Bob, you always have to rewrite reality to conform with your prejudices, don't you? Trump, Pai and Flake were behind the move. The 2017 Congressional vote split along party lines and was passed because the Republicans were in the majority at the time. Trump hasn't signed the bill into law yet, but his advisors have said that he will even in the face of states taking a pre-emptive move to protect their citizens.

    6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Because the states don't have an equalent of "Sweet" Pai running an FCC

      Thank f**k.

      "Regulator"

      Well and truly captured.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Socialism!!

    This is pure and simple Socialism! What else would explain them catering to people rather than to businesses? They are biting the hand that feeds them, that's crazy. This is crazy Socialism and god will punish them for perverting his will. Unless of course they up their Tithe to a Twentithe...

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Socialism!!

      If you "up" your tithe, you pay more than 1/10th. I could get behind "tweentithe" at a pinch (13-19%), but not "twentithe" (1/20th).

      Otherwise, excellent post. I like the cut of your jib.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Socialism!!

        And here I thought I was creating a new word.

    2. Louis Schreurs

      Re: Socialism!!

      Hang her up! Hang her up!

      Hang her down! Hang her down!

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: Socialism!!

      as an AC you couldn't do the 'joke' icon, so I'll assume you meant this as sarcasm.

      you could NOT have possibly been serious, right?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Socialism!!

        How long did it take you to work that out?

      2. anoco

        Re: Socialism!!

        The above coward is an impostor, a fake coward if you will. I would've never been that rude. I would just say that sarcasm is best served ambiguously, any signs of obviousness turns it into a weak criticism.

  3. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    As Maine goes ...

    so goes the nation (hopefully).

    (not just a provisional title for a Stephen King book ... Cell, was it?)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: As Maine goes ...

      On the other hand, from the wording, you the customer will have to opt out of having your data sold. And based on the wording, I can see the ISPs taking it literally and requiring you to actually write to them with pen and paper, envelope and stamp, to opt out. And you may well have to use a postal method whereby you can prove they received it. Likewise, all the ISPs will carefully ensure that all their customers know about how to opt out by placing the informational notice in a dark and disused toilet in a cellar at the bottom of a broken stairway with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard!"

      All this in contrast to an opt-in system where the ISPs will constantly remind you that it's easy to opt-in, just please, please, please tick this box.

      Still, at least is a small step forward. One small step for man, one tiny baby step for privacy.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: As Maine goes ...

        "Beware of the Leopard!"

        In that part of the world, I think it would be Cougars?

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: As Maine goes ...

      Maine tends towards conservative libertarianism, as I understand it, so I'd like to think that the rest of the country would get on board with that kind of thinking...

      that is: fiscal responsibility, personal freedom, less government

      It's the only way things SHOULD be. That, and a purely FLAT tax rate. Equality is a good thing. I'm not sure how Maine-iacs are on flat tax, though. I haven't heard about any surveys on that one, and I don't talk politics with 2 of my relatives who live there (both former Californians, no need to mention anything else).

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: As Maine goes ...

        Maine tends towards conservative libertarianism, as I understand it

        Maine is currently represented by one Republican senator and one Independent senator (who caucuses with the Democrats) and two Democrats in the House. Both the Maine Senate and the House is 60% Democrat.

  4. Martin-73 Silver badge

    I can see why this was a thing.

    Having lived in the USA during the dialup era... I can see why this happened.

    Dialups often allowed free access, if you installed their app, and had a huge ad banner over the top of whatever you were doing.

    Not a business model that existed (that I know of) here in Blighty, but bloody useful when I hadn't get got a work permit and still wanted to email back to the UK. Igt seems Maine has decided that this business model is now dead. And probably a good thing

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I can see why this was a thing.

      "Dialups often allowed free access, if you installed their app, and had a huge ad banner over the top of whatever you were doing."

      Before broadband came to the public, almost all (or all, I don't know) states had a freenet that provided free dialup access for lower income people, and very cheap dialup access (I used to pay $5/mo) for everyone else. Nobody had to use a special application or put up with ads.

      Freenet nodes still exist in some places. You can still get free or near-free dialup access in my city, anyway, for when you feel nostalgic. Pretty much all of the developers I know in town have a freenet account as a kind of backup in case the broadband goes down.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: I can see why this was a thing.

        JF noted, "Pretty much all of the developers I know in town have a freenet account [free dialup access] as a kind of backup in case the broadband goes down."

        Dial-up as backup for their broadband connection?

        These developers don't have smartphones, or don't know how to connect via same?

        1. Any other name

          Re: I can see why this was a thing.

          Dial-up as backup for their broadband connection?

          These developers don't have smartphones, or don't know how to connect via same?

          May be JohnFen is living in Harrisonburg, VA?

          Using smartphone as a backup can be hard if you've got no mobile signal ...

          1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: I can see why this was a thing.

            "...got no mobile signal..."

            Is that actually a thing? The combination of having a hardwired broadband connection, and not having a mobile signal? That's an unusual combination. Usual mobile comes to an area first.

            Our household used a mobile connection for several years, back in the pre-3G days, to provide our (better than dial-up) roughly 1 Mbps connection. Years before any wired broadband option was available.

            The mobile data stick connected into a small router that was specifically designed to use the mobile stick as a backup to an WAN Ethernet connection. Since we had no WAN Ethernet, the mobile stick provided the WAN connection.

            These days, just turn on your smartphone's hotspot and carry on. Except beware data cap.

            Dial-up for backup? Still? Seriously? I suspect people are confused.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: I can see why this was a thing.

              Is that actually a thing? The combination of having a hardwired broadband connection, and not having a mobile signal? That's an unusual combination. Usual mobile comes to an area first.

              There's a lot of rural territory in the US where households have electrical service but wireless coverage is poor or non-existent, or at least limited to only some of the major providers. Since the wiring infrastructure (poles, access roads) is already in place, it's relatively easy to wire them for telecoms as well, and indeed in many cases there will be DSL-capable lines already.

              Here at the Mountain Fastness, in northern New Mexico, I have fibre to the premises (courtesy of the local electrical & telecoms co-op), but if I didn't have my own picocell connected to it I wouldn't be able to get mobile service in the house or on most of the property. There's a spot out front where I can usually get a single bar, which I use to call the aforementioned co-op when there's a line cut or other outage.

              On my way here from the Stately Manor in Michigan, I pass through such teeming metropolitan areas as Eads, Colorado, which definitely has some sort of wired Internet service (the gas stations have that damned GSTV, for example), but no AT&T mobile service, at least.

              Wireless coverage in the US outside metro areas is greatly exaggerated by the FCC's bogus census-grid-based metric, as has been reported several times here in the Reg.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I can see why this was a thing.

          "These developers don't have smartphones, or don't know how to connect via same?"

          Of course they do, but it's awfully nice to have a backup that is more reliable than that.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I can see why this was a thing.

      In the UK I vaguely remember there was a time where some 'free' ISPs had dial-up software or browsers with built-in banner ads, but that came to an end with broadband.

      The Grauniad also mentions it so it must be true.

      Also notice that even with a free ISP you'd get some webspace. Not any more, we're all supposed to consume or go to Facebook.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: I can see why this was a thing.

        > webspace

        Indeed. Internet Service Provision used to be the whole thing. Connection, credentials, email account and a server slice with (assigned not chosen) domain name and some protocol support: http and ftp at least. You could be part of the 'net, not just a consumer. Now, it's just the connection.

        Having said that, there are a lot of reliable low-cost hosting providers.

        1. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: I can see why this was a thing.

          Indeed, my website for a long time was with cwcom.net (cable and wireless). Formerly mcmail.com [mercury comms] (indeed mydomain.cwc.net and mydomain.mcmail.com resolved to the same site)

          Oddly that kept working for several years after I ceased being a customer (while I was in the USA in fact). Then they became boltblue or something, no idea what that was about

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: I can see why this was a thing.

          I think every ISP I've ever used provided email accounts, and still do. Many of them provided "web space", though I think most of them have dropped that. I've never bothered using those bundled services, and I suspect neither have the vast majority of customers.

    3. gotes

      Re: I can see why this was a thing.

      "Free" ISPs in the UK made their money from the 0845 "national rate" PoP numbers. Oh how we envied people living in Hull.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I can see why this was a thing.

        ...there were also one or two who used 0800 freephone numbers and did ad banners on the screen. Often very difficult to get connected to due to busy signals. One I used a few times was XStream.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: I can see why this was a thing.

          Yep, a few models were tried. 0845 was probably the most successful given the terminating operator took a couple of pence per minute of the 0845 charges. Especially devious ones also noticed that short duration calls had a higher payout, and beasts like Ascend Max & TNTs could be set to drop calls after say, 20s to get the full benefit from that.

          Problem with Maine-style legislation is it's just shooting the messenger given the majority of personal data slurped comes from all the apps and trackers, not the access element.. Especially if the ISP doesn't have DPI boxen that can look into the URIs.

          (Unless of course Maine's definition of ISP includes the usual suspects, ie Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, facebook etc etc.)

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: I can see why this was a thing.

            The difference between apps and trackers and ISPs is the data from an ISP is linked to a real person with a real address, which makes ISP data more valuable.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: I can see why this was a thing.

              The difference between apps and trackers and ISPs is the data from an ISP is linked to a real person with a real address, which makes ISP data more valuable.

              That's more a problem with the mass data slurpers and aggregators. So they'll frequently want phone numbers (especially mobiles for SMS spam), address details on registration, or those are slurped from stuff like shopping history. So the slurpers can more easily link fixed and mobile 'net habits via those apps, trackers, UIDs etc etc.

              ISPs on the other hand may just know that for 48hrs, a DCHP lease was granted to an xDSL connection terminating at 42, Erehwon Avenue. It won't necessarily know who at that address has been using the connection (or WiFi), and from an Ops PoV, probably doesn't care. There may be some accounting logging data used if there's a policy & overage charge, but an ISP can't reliably know anything more than src:destination pairs unless it's invested in DPI. If it proxies traffic via caches, it may have more data from those, but from my experience, that kind of data collection's more a cost and potential litigation ballache than revenue.

              I came across this issue back in the '90s at my first real ISP when stuff like Netflow became a feature. We looked at it as a possible way to get smarter with peering & traffic engineering, marketing thought they may be able to flog it.. and were duly ignored. But since then, there's also been some regulatory pressure, ie doing bulk data collection for TPTB adds a fair bit of cost, so why not share/sell that data? For some reason, TPTB are generally reluctant to pay the collection costs themselves, and the big data slurpers have a lot of lobbying power to try and prevent restrictions.

          2. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: I can see why this was a thing.

            "Problem with Maine-style legislation is it's just shooting the messenger"

            That's not a problem with the legislation. It's just that the legislation is aimed at ISPs, not content companies. No single piece of legislation can or should cover all the bad things.

            "Unless of course Maine's definition of ISP includes the usual suspects, ie Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, facebook etc etc."

            It better not, since ISPs and content providers like those in your list are in very, very different businesses. ISPs should be held to a much higher standard.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Nick Kew Silver badge

    Market Forces

    <Advocatus Diabolus>

    In principle, there could be a matter of user choice here. Let the law not dictate how ISPs behave, but merely force them to advertise clearly their privacy policy (or lack thereof). Then users get to choose an ISP that respects privacy if they care about it.

    Would that principle of informed consent not be more honest than letting users here sign up for the likes of Virgin without any warning of what they're letting themselves in for?

    1. Remy Redert

      Re: Market Forces

      This would work wonders in any market where market forces are present, the cost of starting up a business is low and there aren't many regulatory hurdles to leap across.

      The ISP market in the current framework in the US is not such a market, so your choices are to change the rules and enforce openness to get there, as many European countries have done or change the rules and enforce privacy rules, net neutrality and more.

      Of course in the EU we kind of went both ways. Most EU countries require at least the phone networks to be open to competition regardless of who owns the actual lines, through local loop unbundling and other such schemes and most EU countries never allowed privacy abuse the way the US does in the first place. They certainly don't now that the GDPR has come into effect.

      All we really need now is for the Irish to start hammering certain large US-based companies that continue to flagrantly violate the rules.

      1. Henry Hallan
        Go

        Re: Market Forces

        Funny you should mention that...

        https://m.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/facebook-fails-in-bid-to-prevent-data-transfer-case-going-to-european-court-38169179.html

    2. Louis Schreurs

      Re: Market Forces

      If you leave the choice to corps, the choice the consumer (should) want(s), will not be available.

      I need an internet connection with low speed and low cap, worth € 10,=.

      Only i can buy cheapest mobile €23!=, cheapest copper € 27,=, cheapest fibre € 30,=. All per month.

      1. Any other name

        Re: Market Forces

        I need an internet connection with low speed and low cap, worth € 10,=.

        Only i can buy cheapest mobile €23!=, cheapest copper € 27,=, cheapest fibre € 30,=. All per month.

        Where are you located, if I may ask? Since you are quoting prices in Euro, I assume it is somewhere in the eurozone? Then these prices do feel a bit high. For Germany at least, there is a rather nice comparison-shopping service by check24.de, which lets me do some comparisons.

        For mobile internet, if I look for 1Gigabyte/month (you did say low volume; it does not mean you'll get cut off after 1Gbyte, rather the connexion speed will drop) and a month-to-month contract or prepaid, I see 35 (!) offers under €10/month. The cheapest short-time tariff for 10Gbytes/month is €15 - a bit higher than you specified, but significantly below €23. You can get it cheaper on a long-time contract, but I am generally against those for telecom services.

        For DSL, I see multiple offers in the €20-30/month range for the running cost, with no special deals; the best choice will depend on the location and your other requirements; for Berlin area I also see a special 2-year deal at €9.99 for 50Mbps down/4Mbps up (you did say slow is Ok!) - however it gets quite expensive after 2 years, so you'd just have to remember to cancel.

        At least in Berlin, FTTP is not realy a thing yet, so these offers are rather expensive (€40 for 250/40 Mbps, going up to €125 for 1000/500) and are not available in most area. However, since you specified low-speed/low-cap, you are not really the target audience for FTTP.

    3. Palpy

      Re: Market Forces, Advocatus Diabolus

      I get your point, but long experience with letting the "market" decide corporate behavior suggests that this solution will not work in practice.

      Corporations are experts at making "freely available" information virtually impossible to find, for one thing. For another, their marketing folks have vast skills at making words appear to mean the opposite of what is uncovered by a careful, legalistic reading.

      For a third thing, they cheat. Take the recent brouhaha over phone providers selling user data after they pledged to stop.

      Frankly, trusting market forces to enforce good is what got Western culture a tradition of sociopathic corporate behavior. Phillip-Morris denying that ciggies cause cancer, Tetraethyl Corp denying that lead poisoning is a problem, Exxon-Mobil cutting corners on wellhead safety, Facebook, Google, yadda yadda.

      OK, so I post a lot of anti-corporate opinions. Here's some leavening.

      Dharma Trading, in San Francisco. They use corn-starch packing peanuts instead of styrofoam. The peanuts dissolve in water; down the sink they go. Costs them more, but keeps styrofoam out of the landfill. And for an artist -- or Sunday dye-painter really -- they have a wealth of consumer-friendly information on products and techniques.

      Ecosia is over-the-top on social responsibility. The business uses most of its profit to underwrite reforestation, has pledged to be privacy-friendly, and appears to be an all-around good actor. Of course, the endeavor was built that way from the beginning.

      There are other examples. It seems to me that in a corporate setting, socially responsible behavior correlates with a strong individual or core group at the top creating a rather specific organizational culture. This has little to do with market forces -- in fact, pure market forces militate against things like using plant-based disposable packing peanuts instead of styrofoam.

      It takes a kind of corporate willpower to do the more expensive thing just because it's socially responsible. Good when it happens, but counting on it in the case of Comcast or Verizon is a fool's hope. Legislate the rules, and then make the companies toe the line.

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Market Forces

      "Then users get to choose an ISP that respects privacy if they care about it."

      That's making the assumption that you have a choice of ISPs. I don't know the situation in Maine, but in my area and a lot of others, there is no such choice available.

  6. Old Used Programmer

    Coming soon...

    How long before the terms and conditions for ISPs doing business in Maine specify that they have a free hand with your data. Want the service, sign on the line "giving" the ISP permission...

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Stop

      Re: Coming soon...

      From the bill (linked pdf in TFA):

      A provider may not: ... (1) Refuse to serve a customer who does not provide consent ...

    2. eldakka Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Coming soon...

      How long before the terms and conditions for ISPs doing business in Maine specify that they have a free hand with your data. Want the service, sign on the line "giving" the ISP permission...
      What prevents that is the follow language in the bill, as per the link in the article (line number references removed for readability, my emphasis):
      3. Customer consent exception. Consent of a customer is governed by this subsection.

      A. A provider may use, disclose, sell or permit access to a customer's customer personal information if the customer gives the provider express, affirmative consent to such use, disclosure, sale or access. A customer may revoke the customer's consent under this paragraph at any time.

      B. A provider may not:

      (1) Refuse to serve a customer who does not provide consent under paragraph A;

      or

      (2) Charge a customer a penalty or offer a customer a discount based on the customer's decision to provide or not provide consent under paragraph A.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Coming soon...

      The Maine law specifically prohibits that sort of thing.

  7. Garymrrsn

    Interstate Commerce

    Because internet is a network that crosses state lines, the ISPs may use the Interstate Commerce Clause to sue in Federal Court to have the law invalidated.

    I would hope that it would turn out like state marijuana laws, however, pot doesn't (legally) cross state lines.

    Whatever happens, it won't be done until the lawyers get their share.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Interstate Commerce

      The federal government gets around this by claiming that intrastate transactions have an effect in interstate commerce by reducing the demand, and thus 'affect interstate commerce'.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Interstate Commerce

        then it becomes a matter of enforcement, which probably won't happen in the case of marijuana. If it goes to the Supreme Court, however, then the entire premise of making drugs illegal at the federal level (without a Constitutional ammendment) might be challenged. In the case of ISPs, it may be less clear as to what's happening because of federal regulatory agencies wanting to hold onto their power and not share.

        personally I think this is an FTC issue and should apply across the board, to ALL business, with respect to collection of personal data, and disclosing that data to 3rd parties, whether it's anonymous or not. Privacy needs to be favored over monetizing the customer. And make it opt-in, not opt-out.

        (then "they" can sell people on the idea of opting in, maybe with special discounts or something, like grocery store discount cards)

  8. notamole

    Effectiveness

    "...may use, disclose, sell or permit access to information... except upon written notice from the customer notifying the provider that the customer does not permit the provider to use..."

    So this is opt-out rather than opt-in, the permission is assumed unless revoked. Do the ISPs even have to tell their (potential) customers that they have this right?

    1. notamole

      Re: Effectiveness

      Edited out too much, sorry.

      " A provider may use, disclose, sell or permit access to information the provider collects pertaining to a customer that is not customer personal information, except upon written notice from the customer notifying the provider that the customer does not permit the provider to use, disclose, sell or permit access to that information"

      1. GrapeBunch Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Effectiveness

        If the customer opts out, then perhaps the customer's privacy is protected. But what about persons other than the customer? Is there anything from preventing the sale, for example, of the customer's e-mail address book, not as such, but simply as a collection of e-mail addresses? We've seen this sort of situation bite, before.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So within 24 hours, every ISP in Maine has added 'you give us permission to flog your personal details' to page 93 of their T&C's and nothing changes.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      They don't even have to do that. It's opt OUT. They just have to make it impossible to find where to mail you're WRITTEN notice to (snailmail ofcourse, no fax or email will do) and then change that address every 2 weeks just fer shitz'n'giggles so nobody can actually find the correct one.

  10. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Holmes

    The Unconstitutional Republican Written US Senate Joint Resolution 34 (S.J.Res.34) is the source...

    ... of Maine's and every US citizen's concern.

    This unconstitutional abomination was perpetrated in April, 2017. The Republicans went out of their way to blatantly and admittedly lie about the situation in order to shove this resolution through both the US Senate and House of Representatives. The prominent lie was that the US FCC (Federal Trade Commission) does not have jurisdiction over ISP's (Internet service provider) use of customer data. That instead it is the providence of the FTC, Federal Trade Commission. Therefore, the only the FTC can make rules regarding how ISP customer data is handled. Specifically, Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn was caught in this lie during the House debate on the resolution. Blackburn admitted that the FTC has no jurisdiction over ISP's collection and use of customer data and that a federal law would have to be drafted and passed in order to provide the FTC with this ability. The unconstitutional resolution passed anyway, due to the Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House at the time. (I watched the entire proceedings via C-Span).

    The main result of this resolution was the allowance of ISPs to both collect any and all customer data and to both give it upon request to the US government AND to sell it to whomever they please. That is the current state of affairs in the USA.

    After this resolution passed, the FTC itself has repeatedly reiterated that it has no jurisdiction over ISP's collection and use of customer data. Meanwhile, there has been no bill to provide either the FTC or the FCC with jurisdiction over ISP customer data privacy. This is considered part of ongoing contention regarding REAL Net Neutrality (vs the BS Republicans foist as "Net Neutrality"). The US government has an overall interest in keeping S.J.Res.34 in place, despite it being unconstitutional, in order to have a quick and easy source of private US citizen data for the purpose of surveillance, both legal and illegal. Note that Edward Snowden proved the NSA has been repeatedly engaged in illegal US citizen surveillance.

    Here are a couple relevant links for those interested in reading and understanding S.J.Res.34:

    S.J.Res.34 - A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to "Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services".

    S.J.Res. 34 – Disapproving the Federal Communications Commission’s Rule on Privacy of Customers of Broadband Services

    Repeat after me, the Motto of the Corrupt Politician:

    "If You Can't Win, CHEAT!"

    Why is S.J.Res.34 unconstitutional? Please refer to both the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution. Both are violated by this resolution.

  11. Aussie Doc
    Trollface

    Well, that will no doubt show 'them' who's boss.

    Won't it?

    /s

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