The state just got a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine as both fight four internet industry groups in a battle over Maine’s recently enacted online privacy protection law.
The Portland Press Herald reports that the ACLU filed the brief in support of the state, which is being sued by four internet industry groups led by a Pennsylvania-based trade group called ACA Connects. The brief argues that the new law correctly puts individuals’ First Amendment rights above those of internet service providers.
Considered one of the strictest online privacy regulations in the country, the law prohibits internet service providers from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to a customer’s personal information unless a customer “opts in.” It requires providers to take reasonable measures to protect customers’ personal information from unauthorized use, disclosure, sale or access, and it prohibits providers from refusing to serve customers or charge customers who do not consent to their personal information being shared.
In a lawsuit filed originally in U.S. District Court in Bangor in February, the four plaintiffs claimed that the law violates the free speech clause of the Constitution. The plaintiffs are: ACA Connects — America’s Communications Association; CTIA — the Wireless Association; NCTA — the Internet & Television Association; and USTelecom — the Broadband Association.
The organizations have said that “protecting consumer privacy is a vital national goal. Consumers expect – and deserve – the same meaningful privacy protections across the internet. Broadband providers are united in support of a comprehensive national privacy framework that puts consumers first and applies to all companies, including all those operating online, in a uniform and technology-neutral manner.”
It also said that Maine’s law has “serious substantive flaws.”
The ACLU of Maine’s brief says the state has an interest in protecting consumers from internet-provider surveillance. It argues that the providers have a “long history” of invading privacy, while the law is crafted to allow consumers to opt in to the companies’ offers and information if they choose, the Press Herald reports.