back to article Minnesota, Illinois rebel over America's ISP privacy massacre, mull fresh info protections

President Trump has yet to sign off on congressional legislation that allows American ISPs to sell their subscribers' online habits to advertisers – but US states aren't waiting for his signature and are moving to protect their constituents' privacy. On Tuesday, the Minnesota House of Representatives introduced legislation to …

  1. Brian Miller Silver badge

    Trump revitalizes America...

    by making so many bad decisions that everybody gets off their butt and gets involved.

    First, it was the travel ban. Now, it's about people's data. After that? I don't know, but I don't recall any other president generating this much action on part of the individual states of the union. Prior to the American civil war, the US was referred to as, "the United States are.." and afterwards, it's "the United States is." What Trump is doing is getting the states to behave as individual states, and maybe after he's done, the world will see the US as a collection of states again.

    This will also be a big boost to various VPN providers and others who don't track their users. Some of them also have GitHub projects, so feel free to get involved!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Trump revitalizes America...

      In the real world; "Trump wastes America's time"

      Having each state draft a resolution to something that could have been avoided by not kowtowing to the big ISPs every time they hand out free money, at the congressional and house level, is a waste of everyone's time. This is not how a government should be run. Rather, it's the opposite. Your view is askew.

      1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Trump revitalizes America...

        Apparently Brian Miller needed to use the <irony> tag.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Trump revitalizes America...

        >In the real world; "Trump wastes America's time"


        I mean, democracy is very inefficient, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have it. Individual States don't need to debate everything from scratch. Listen to what other states are doing and build from that. Maybe some areas really do prefer cheap internet to privacy. The smaller the democracy, the more your vote counts, the greater power people have, the easier it is to organise an effective campaign, the easier it is to influence politicians, the better "we the people" can express ourselves in law.

        Trump is just making obvious what the normal political process is.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: BuSab (4 P. Lee)

          Drop that Jacuzzi Stim, McKie!

      3. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Trump revitalizes America...

        "This is not how a government should be run. Rather, it's the opposite. Your view is askew."

        What you are missing is the irony of the OP's statements.

        For the last 20+ years, we (us less-than-backward Amerikuns) have had to listen to the Republicans put up a "small government!" and "states rights!" facade in front of, pretty much, every single pet topic of theirs. From reproductive rights to LBGT rights to privacy and environmental issues, their ideal was an almost non-existent federal government, handling just borders, defense and ports (a la 18th century America, their "ideal" world), with the individual states handling everything else. The GOP held this belief under a fundamental premise that individual states would be, Oh! So Friendly to Big Business, by being both demure and welcoming to the great and varied interests of a practically unregulated "Free Market" economy.

        So the GOP pushed this agenda forward, to the point of it truly becoming propaganda: almost nothing could not be cured by their "small government / states rights" proposals. It was a salve applied to all their perceived "evils", from of liberalism to "religious freedom" issues. "The states should handle these issues"...because the conservatives believed that they could steamroller their ideal agenda through much easier at the state government level by easily gerrymandering their home districts and coupling in some Olde Time Religion to their propaganda machine.

        So, here we are. A "conservative" president who is welcome and appealing to their viewpoint, trying to implement the "small government / states rights".

        And what are the states doing?

        The exact opposite of what the GOP has forwarded for the past 20+ years: the states are re-implementing the very ideas and rules that the GOP is trying to strip away on the federal level.

        The GOP thought it could wind back the hands of time to a relatively unregulated era, where the interests of Big Business decided so many aspects of our lives. Instead, the states the GOP thought would say "Yes please! We're all for additional pollution and lowering of oversight, if it means Big Business in our states love us!", are, in actuality, saying "Kiss off, if you can't handle the concerns of the individuals that make up our neighborhoods, then we will".

        It is absolutely LUSCIOUS. My popcorn bag has been so often used these past 2 months that I have scheduled lorry deliveries just to keep up with the demand. Karma, best served cold.

        Absolute zero, if I had any actual say in it.

        1. LDS Silver badge

          It's ironic...

          ... given who one of the main founders of GOP was - and why the GOP itself was created.

          "Nearly eighty years ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a 'sacred right of self-government.' "

          (Abraham Lincoln)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Trump revitalizes America...


          I feel your pain but what you're saying isn't totally cohesive. In a way, stripping the regulation at the federal level allows states to implement their own. In other words the "small government" of the state gets to exercise "states rights". In a sense allowing the states to decide is actually a hindrance to "Big Business" since it means there is a potential for there to be 50 different sets of rules which complicates their operation. Even further down the chain, cities and towns can also implement their own rules. It's big business who wants all the control at the federal level because it greatly decreases the number of palms they need to grease. How effective would Google have been if they had to deal with every state and local government instead of just sleeping with Obama?

          I guess the question is whether the GOP realizes that pulling the federal government back allows states to take the reins or whether they intend to further abuse the commerce clause in the same way as every other administration has since Wickard v. Filburn. It's definitely going to get interesting, pass the popcorn.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: Trump revitalizes America...


            Sadly that is not correct, in order to understand the progression of the ideals of the neo-conservative agenda you must read the history of laws of the land.

            The plan is precise: remember that, according to both the Constitution and previous Supreme Court decisions, only the federal government has the power to regulate interstate commerce. Since almost all Big Business is now interstate, indeed as all American Big Businesses now trade globally, all Big Business activities would be the purview of the federal government.

            Since their plan is to WEAKEN all oversight and regulatory acts of the federal government, it guarantees that states cannot individuality regulate their activities in broad strokes. The best the states can do is to implement smaller regulations that govern trading rules within their state, not operating rules that govern an entire business or industry. If a state passes a law that imposes too strong of a burden, they'll just sue in federal court under the claim that it infringes their ability to do business elsewhere.

            In other words, the regulations would go downward to lowest common denominator. And the conservatives expect to have control of the state houses, guaranteeing the lowest of available lows.

      4. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Trump revitalizes America...

        In the real world; "Trump wastes America's time"

        This could be a good thing.. the time wasting part that is. We've had other presidents that basically did nothing to polarize or motivate the people and thus the states they live in. Maybe it's time to back off from the central government as the original founders wanted and tried to set up via the Constitution. People and States have been complaining for years that the Feds we/are grabbing more power that what they were allowed to do per the Constitution. It could be time to change that and return power to the States.

        Just musing over this....

  2. Someone Else Silver badge

    the White House said in a statement that Trump's advisors "would recommend that he sign the bill into law."

    Given who #KomradePresident's advisors are, I'm surprised they'd stop at that...why not let ISPs sell your first born child into "indentured servitude" for a buck?

  3. Michael Jarve
    Thumb Up

    I'm very proud of my State.

    Though far from perfect, I sometimes wish the rest of the country had the reasonable sensibilities of L 'Étoile du Nord (Michelle "Is she mad!?" Bachman not withstanding). We need more Arne Carlsons and Mark Daytons in office. It must be the hotdish and lutefisk, dont'chya know?

    To Mr. Miller, I add that Trump's presidency might push California off the map (rhetorically, anyway), as they seem intent on continuing as if Obama was still in office regarding many policies.

  4. MNGrrrl

    Minnesotan here!

    Minnesota, def. (For Europeans): We're basically Canadian, just stuck living under the stars and stripes.

    We generally sport European levels of progressiveness (Except Italy... but I mean... Italy). We've generally led the rest of the country in civil liberties -- contrary to popular belief, California is not the center of social progressivism in the country, and neither is New York. And we have some of the highest standards of living, educational systems, and economic development of any state. We are actually *world* leaders regarding food safety and handling. Republicans, for example, bitch endlessly about how regulating businesses will destroy the market. Almost all of this country's hazardous materials production and disposal is handled here. Until about a decade ago, we sported the biggest munitions factory in the country. And nobody cares because we regulate it well -- and instead of shooing businesses away because we don't want them and their unregulated trash, we throw open our doors. It's just one example amongst many, many more. To Republicans, I say this: Keep being stupid. Businesses love us, because they're moving here left and right -- and out of your states. Please. Continue to talk about your economic policies. Talking is all you *can* do. We didn't just take action, we ended the debate. IT's all in your head now!

    Our economic development is because of a focus on infrastructure (partly because we have really nasty winters and can't afford to let our infrastructure fall apart). We'd have more, but the goddamn Republicans keep stealing our money -- we pay in nearly 10% more in federal taxes than we get back. That 10% is being fed to crappy states like Alabama, that never invested in anything but racism and swamp land, but still want all the trimmings like running water, lights, that sort of thing. If you ask anyone up here, they'll tell you -- we'll give you those things when you stop being horrible, horrible human beings.

    Republicans talk about business, jobs, and economic progress. We actually do it. But don't tell them that, it's a political truth that if mentioned goes over about as well as mentioning gravity in a room full of quantum physicists. You guys figure that one out yet? Haaaaaah.

    And here again, we'll be leading the country in sensible regulations and civil liberties... and I'm guessing in another decade or so all the data centers will have migrated out of California and New York into the Midwest, so many more Americans can enjoy privacy protections even though they, sadly, remain trapped in their crappy, economically regressive, needy states.

    Oh wait... that's already happening. Iowa is nearly ready to beat California in new data center deployments. O___O

    #MakeAmericaGreatAgain < #YouBetcha

    1. Blue Pumpkin

      Re: Minnesotan here!

      But surely that's only because all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average ?

      1. Michael Jarve

        Re: Minnesotan here!

        Ironically, the mythical Lake Woebegone was in the aforementioned district of Michelle "Nuttier than than a Snickers Bar" Bachmann.

        1. MNGrrrl

          Re: Minnesotan here!

          > was in the aforementioned district of Michelle "Nuttier than than a Snickers Bar" Bachmann

          Er... We don't talk about her. It's right up there on the How To Minnesotan list next to "Always insult outsiders in a way they'll think is a compliment". Example: yes, your kid really is special!

      2. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Minnesotan here!

        " California is not the center of social progressivism in the country, and neither is New York."

        If any of the three would like to secede, please do. We'd love to be rid of you and your judgmental, delusional nature. (By the way, the Confederacy was all Democrat, and Lincoln was a Republican. Some things never change.)

        1. joejack

          Re: Minnesotan here!

          > the Confederacy was all Democrat, and Lincoln was a Republican.

          > Some things never change.

          No, dummy. Everything changed.

          Also, I don't think Lincoln would look favorably on any states seceding.

        2. Hollerithevo

          Re: Minnesotan here!

          I love it when folks roll our Lincoln's Republican party as an examine of whatever, without knowing American history. There have been many formations of Republican, Democrat, Federalist, etc parties, each one founded on certain ideas, and some slowly mutating through time. Lincoln helped found a new Republican party that would have seemed SJW today: abolitionist as hell and really activist. It's only in the early 20th century that the modern parties moved into each other's evolutionary niches.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Trumped, again!

  6. tom dial Silver badge

    I wonder if the Constitution, in Article I, Section VIII, Paragraph 3, does not reserve such matters as are addressed in the reported legislation in Minnesota and Illinois to the federal government. It seems likely to be true for ISPs generally, and almost certain to be true for apps. Certainly the FCC thought so when they issued the order on ISP behavior in December, 2016, and I would expect most ISPs to so argue in federal court.

    1. Swarthy

      Oof! That paragraph has been abused so much that it flinches at loud noises. But, the states can likewise argue that the Commerce between the ISP and the Customer is not "between the several states".

      However, the ISP can just sell the customer data from a different state, without those laws, and the only recourse is SFA.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    For once

    I'll chime in as a native Illinoisan and say "Damn! For once one of the most corrupt states attempting something that is right!"

    Now let's wait for the dust to settle...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too bad for me

    My state has a republican house, republican senate and republican governor. 0% chance of them doing anything to protect us from our ISPs.

    Instead they just passed a law overriding the counties that had raised their minimum wage over the state/federal minimum. I guess republicans only believe in local control when that local control is used to override democrats, instead of the other way around!

  9. paulf Silver badge

    Some details on written consent?

    FTA: "that would require ISPs to get written consent from customers before selling off their browser histories to marketers."

    The article doesn't offer a definition of "written consent". Perhaps they're still defining "written consent"? Do these legislators understand the difference between "written consent" and "informed consent"? The former buries the consent in page 94 of the Ts+Cs of which you must accept all parts unmodified to get service and the latter is willingly and knowingly ticking the (by default unticked) box to say "Yes, I agree to this, understand what I'm agreeing to and if I disagree my service will still be provided otherwise unmodified".

    I hope I'm wrong, because it's reassuring to see some of the states standing up to the federal executive on this, but I suspect the brown envelopes are already on their way to ensure "written consent" will be as meaningless and as "default" as possible.

  10. SouthernLogic

    Always growing government

    Minnesota and Illinois have never missed a chance to step on individual freedoms and grow their state government any chance they can get. The duplicate protections Trump got rid of were already included in laws by the FTC. That is not good enough for these two Marxist states, they want more control over people that live in their state and the companies that operate there. Can we expect any more from two states that advertise the generous welfare benefits each has, in each others state. With the goal to get more residents dependent on the government? There is a reason why companies are leaving this area.

    1. Swarthy

      Re: Always growing government

      You do realize that the kerfuffle over this is that the FTC does not have regulatory jurisdiction over ISPs? by invoking Title II, Wheeler moved them under the purview of the FCC and set up the regulations to keep them behaved. Congress has just nixed those rules, but not the move.

      So, No. There are no regulations regarding ISPs and privacy - which is the whole point people are getting pissed about.

      1. Fred Goldstein

        Re: Always growing government

        The FTC did have jurisdiction. Wheeler screwed up by claiming Title II over ISPs -- he was trying to please activists panicked over "network neutrality" while not actually fixing the underlying mess created by his predecessors. So he broke the FTC's authority, then tried to reassert it within the FCC, which is non-expert in privacy matters. Thus there are no more federal regulations, and the previous federal pre-emption of state regulation (and court action) has also gone away. Thus states only now have the authority to enforce it. This is no doubt not what the big carrier/ISPs wanted, but now they have to face all of the states, any one of which could give them real heartburn. Not to mention private lawsuits, which had been preempted.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Always growing government

      I've never seen a more apt username.

  11. Trey Pattillo

    united not divided

    Let start at the least common denominator.

    In my state a bunch of the larger cities have implemented "no cell/texting while driving".

    Well I live 15 miles from such city.

    Who's to say I never heard of such "city ordinance".

    So the State has proposed as State wide ban on cell use/texting while driving.

    So ALL CONFUSION has been resolved.

    That is the purpose of the State.

    AND......that is the PURPOSE of the FEDERAL.

    When the states can not have some census about law then it is up to the Federal to level the field

    Same goes for LGBT, same sex marriage and a laundry list of topics that apply.

    The movements need to get on board for NO Lobbying $$ and Term Limits, that will solve a lot of the political problems [McConnell should have been gone years ago. But sat for 8 years with his thumb up his ass and he's licking Trump's ass.] Politics was designed as a "service" not as a profession.

  12. hellwig

    Here's the business model ISPs have:

    1) ISPs overcharge consumers for sub-par data connections.

    2) ISPs overcharge content providers for peering to deliver content unobstructed. Content the CONSUMER has ALREADY PAID to have delivered!

    3) ISPs see the potential to monetize some of that traffic they are already double-charging to be delivered, and want to sell it off.

    4) They complain Facebook and Google, get to collect and sell data, forgetting that consumers "willingly" give Google and Facebook that data in exchange for free services. Forgetting that their own customers have ALREADY paid for their internet connection, and big providers like Netflix have ALREADY paid to deliver content. ISPs are NOT losing revenue, they simply aren't allowed to sell private data they have collected.

    Think if a Doctor could start selling your medical records. Just because you paid them for their services, that doesn't mean they should have to lose out on further revenue opportunities. Yet the government obviously felt it was important enough to protect that sensitive information. However, if you sit at home, typing symptoms into WebMD, that's not similarly sensitive and in need of protection? It's such a low concern that they won't even require the ISPs to TELL YOU what they're selling?

    There is not legitimate reason your ISP needs to be doing this. They simply want money, and Congress has voted that your civil rights (right to privacy and illegal search and seizure) are outweighed by an ISPs desire to make more money.

    The NSA doesn't even need to exist anymore. The government can just buy whatever information they need from the ISPs now. There's not even any onus to anonymize the data. If someone goes to an ISP and says "sell me Joe Blow's data", why wouldn't the ISP do that?

    Good on the states for starting to roll out these laws. Can't imagine the "states rights" party can have any argument here. Too bad for the ISPs that they didn't grease more state senator palms in Minnesota.

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