Not In New York: Kennedy Introduces Bill to Ban Internet Providers from Selling Your Personal Information

Timothy M. Kennedy

April 04, 2017

One Day After President Trump Signs Congressional Resolution Repealing Consumer Privacy Protections, Kennedy Introduces Legislation to Maintain Protection for New York State Residents

Legislation Would Prevent Internet Services Providers From Selling Customer Browsing History and Other Personal Information

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Following President Donald Trump’s signing of a congressional resolution to overturn privacy protections, allowing internet service providers (ISPs) to sell the personal information of their customers, Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) has introduced legislation that would ban this practice in New York State. The common-sense legislation would prohibit ISPs from selling customer browsing history and other personal information to third parties. As a public utility regulated by New York State, internet service providers must comply with state laws and regulations. This legislation would ensure that New Yorkers continue to benefit from the privacy laws that were implemented under President Obama’s administration.

“When voters across the country elected this House and US Senate last November, I doubt they were voting with the hope that their ISP would be allowed to sell their browsing history,” said Senator Kennedy. “This kind of anti-consumer, anti-privacy action doesn’t benefit anyone except large corporations. This is not an abstract threat to regular folks – this is bad policy with real world consequences. The legislation I have introduced will ensure these actions never make it to New York State.”

Private browsing information can reveal personal and sensitive information. For example, an employer could purchase the browsing history of an employee, only to discover they are considering a career change, resulting in their firing. Additionally, if key protections under the Affordable Care Act are repealed, health insurance companies could potentially purchase the search history of customers and raise their rates, or even cancel their coverage due to searches about a preexisting condition. While these are hypothetical situations, they illustrate the real consequences that this federal policy change could have on ordinary New Yorkers.

The congressional resolution was signed yesterday by the President, after passing both the United States Senate and House of Representatives, despite protests from Democrats and privacy advocates. With the introduction of Senator Kennedy’s bill, New York joins the ranks of Democratic and Republican-controlled states considering new laws to enhance privacy protections for their residents.