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Mills signs 'internet privacy' opt-in bill into law

The bill would require companies that provide internet access to ask customers if they want to opt in to having their personal information sold to advertisers.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine's Governor signed a bill into law Thursday that requires internet service providers to ask Mainers if they want their personal information sold to advertisers.

The new law prevents the use, sale, or distribution of a customer’s personal information by internet providers without the express consent of the customer.

“Maine people value their privacy, online and off,” said Governor Mills. “The internet is a powerful tool, and as it becomes increasingly intertwined with our lives, it is appropriate to take steps to protect the personal information and privacy of Maine people. With this common-sense law, Maine people can access the internet with the knowledge and comfort that their personal information cannot be bought or sold by their ISPs without their express approval.”

RELATED: Maine bill would require internet companies to ask customers if they want info sold

“Internet privacy has become such a critical issue across our country and our state. Mainers need to be able to trust that the private data they send online won’t be sold or shared without their knowledge,” said Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester. “This law makes Maine first and best in the nation in protecting consumer privacy online.”

LD 946 “An Act To Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information” 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 legislation also prohibits a provider from refusing to serve a customer, charging a customer a penalty or offering a customer a discount if the customer does or does not consent to the use, disclosure, sale or access of their personal information.

To allow the ISPs to adjust their practices and accommodate the new law’s privacy provisions, the law takes effect on July 1, 2020.