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Legislative regulation of the internet and privacy

A recent move by Congress to strip the Federal Communications Commission of the power to protect Internet privacy has provoked outrage among some, and state legislatures may try to weigh in. Privacy groups lost a major battle when Congress and President Trump canceled Internet privacy rules written under the Obama administration. The regulations prevented Internet service providers from selling your web browsing history to third parties, and they were stricter than rules for other kinds of Internet firms.

It's just moved to the states. Drew Hansen is a Democrat in the Washington State House, and Internet privacy policy is not something he usually deals with. But that's changing after this action by Congress. One of my constituents emailed me and said, I'm outraged that Congress is going to allow Internet service providers to sell my browsing history; can we do anything about that?

Internet privacy

And I said, well, I don't know. That's a great question. Let me find out. He talked to the lawyers, and they didn't see why he couldn't just introduce legislation for a state version of the privacy rules that Congress had just canceled. Well, there's no conflict here. I mean the federal entities have just chosen not to act. Federal law in this area is a floor rather than a ceiling.

There's nothing to protect states from being more protective of privacy than the federal government has chosen to do.

  1. By keeping records of what people query through AOLSearch, the company is able to learn a great deal about them without knowing their names. Use of weak passwords that are short, consist of all numbers, all lowercase or all uppercase letters, or that can be easily guessed such as single words, common phrases, a person's name, a pet's name, the name of a place, an address, a phone number, a social security number, or a birth date.
  2. For instance, merely erasing cookies may not be enough to remove potential tracking methods since data could be mirrored in web storage , another means of keeping information in a user's web browser.
  3. This constitutes a potential danger for individuals. On the other hand, in addition to End-to-End encryption software, there are web services such as Qlink [69] which provide privacy through a novel security protocol which does not require installing any software.
  4. Some organizations engage in the profiling of people's web browsing, collecting the URLs of sites visited.
  5. They exhibit a similar privacy risk as normal cookies, but are not as easily blocked, meaning that the option in most browsers to not accept cookies does not affect Flash cookies.

And he's not alone in thinking this way. Legislators around the country are responding to public anger and introducing ISP privacy bills in Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland. The list keeps growing. But is it really true that there's no conflict here with the feds? Blake Reid is an expert on telecom law at the University of Colorado.

Anytime states are intruding into an area or - I shouldn't say intruding but treading into an area that the federal government has got a significant role - and telecommunications is one such area - there's always this question of whether Congress has intended to preempt states' role in that. The legislative regulation of the internet and privacy agency with authority over ISPs is the FCC, and it's not saying whether it thinks the states are intruding on its turf.

Jim Halpert is a lawyer for a coalition of tech companies which includes ISP. He says it may come down to how well the states write their rules. He says some of them have been overreaching.

He calls it the meat-axe approach. If you categorically say you cannot collect information or disclose information, that's what the internet does. Laughter It - having a barrier to that unless a user consents is likely to result in frustrating consumers, and it's also likely to be unconstitutional.

States Introduce New Legislation To Protect Internet Privacy

Halpert says states can expect to spend some tax dollars defending laws like that in court. Ernesto Falcon is legislative council for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is one of the groups that fought to keep the stricter federal privacy rules. I think in the long term this is something that either the federal judiciary or Congress will have to resolve. In the short term, though, because you really do have a clear gap in privacy protections now, the states are going to have to fill the void.

But he also agrees that the states that passed their own ISP privacy laws can expect things to get litigious.


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