AG Successfully Defends Internet Privacy Law Against Telecommunications Providers


Secretary of State Shanna Belllows Introduced This Law When She Was a Maine Senator Back in 2019.

On Friday, September 2, 2022, the nation’s largest telecommunications provider dropped a federal lawsuit challenging a Maine law limiting internet service providers (ISPS) ability to use, disclose or sell their customers’ personal information.

The ISPS filed suit in February of 2020 in response to the passage of LD 946, sponsored by the then-Senator Shenna Bellows in 2019.  The law restricts ISPS’s usage of their customers’ data like web browsing history, location, the content of communications and financial and health information according to a press release issued  by AG Aaron Frey’s office today.

For the last two and a half years, the Maine office of the AG has been vigorously defending the law, achieving an initial victory in July 2020 when Judge Lance E. Walker of the US District Court for the District of Maine ruled that Maine’s law is not preempted by federal law.  Litigation of the industry’s First Amendment claim continued for another two years and the State achieved another victory in August 2022 when Judge Walker denied the industry’s motion to bar the State’s expert witness from testifhing and expressed skepticism about the adminssibility of the testimony of the industry’s experts.

Shortly after the ruling on expert witnesses, the industry plaintiffs announced that they would be dismissing their lawsuit and agree to reimburse the State for over $55,000. in costs the AG’s office incurred in defending the lawsuit.  The dismissal was filed Friday, September 2, 2022.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey reacted to the dismissal:

“Maine’s Legislature wisely sought to protectd Maine residents by restricing the disclosure and use of their most private and personal information.  Despite the army of industry lawyers organized against us, my office vigorously defended the law, not only for the benefit of Maine residents, but also to pave the way for other states that can now follow Maine’s lead.”

The AG thanks AAGs Jason Anton and Paul Sutter, for their hard work on this case.