Friday, April 7, 2017

Senate Republican Caucus Acts to Protect Privacy of Internet Users

Boston-  In the wake of recent federal legislative changes allowing internet service providers to use or sell browsing history and other information collected from their customers, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and the Senate Republican Caucus are filing legislation to prevent that from happening without the customer’s consent. The bill is titled, “An Act Ensuring Internet Security and Privacy”.
On April 3, 2017, federal legislation known as “S.J. Res. 34-A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rules submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services,” became law, and as a result, regulations that had been developed by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama Administration were prevented from going into effect. Those regulations would have prevented internet service providers such as AT&T and Comcast from collecting and selling customer information without permission. Consequently, such practices are permissible and unregulated.
“The federal government has created a situation that threatens consumer privacy, and it needs to be addressed,” said Tarr. He added that, “a customer of any of these providers should have control of their personal information, and shouldn’t have to pay for that control.”
“Consumer privacy is an issue that is on the minds of many of my constituents, and it is my hope that this legislation will address their serious concerns,” said Senator Richard Ross (R-Wrentham).
“As the reliance on web-based technology continues to extend into our day-to-day lives, preserving consumer privacy is vital,” said Senator Don Humason (R–Westfield). “This bill would provide Massachusetts residents with a protection against the sale of their personal information.”
“This bill is an important step in re-claiming the privacy rights of our constituents,” said Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth). “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to safeguard our constituents and their privacy.”
“It is important we protect consumer’s privacy, and to ensure their information is not being sold to the highest bidder without their knowledge,” said Senator Ryan Fattman (R-Webster).
“This recent act of congress infringes on our basic rights to privacy, and in an age of increasing dependency on internet trade, consumers’ rights must be protected,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “This bill will act as a safeguard for Massachusetts residents and their personal information.” 
The new bill, if enacted into law, would specifically prohibit the collection and dissemination of a consumer’s personal information without the written consent of the consumer. It would also prohibit any charge from being imposed on a consumer that did not provide such consent.
The bill has been filed and being offered for co-sponsorship to all members of the House and Senate.
A copy of the text of the bill can be found here: