Illinois Senate Approves Legislation to Protect Personal Information Collected Online

President Donald Trump on April 3 signed the measure that repealed the broadband privacy rules, so Illinois has responded with protective legislation.

by Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune / May 8, 2017
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(TNS) -- With the federal governing rolling back internet privacy regulations, Illinois is moving forward with legislation to protect personal information collected online.

The state Senate on Thursday approved the groundbreaking Right to Know Act, a measure that would require online companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon to disclose to consumers what data about them has been collected and shared with third parties.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Tinley Park, now heads to the Illinois House after passing on a 31-21 vote.

"I think this is a step forward for Illinois in terms of data privacy," Hastings said Friday. "It gives people the right to know what information (internet companies are) selling to a third party."

Illinois is taking center stage in the national debate over internet privacy legislation, which is shifting from the federal to state level. Congress voted in March to undo the Federal Communications Commission's broadband privacy rules, which were adopted last fall under the Obama administration and set to go into effect this year.

President Donald Trump on April 3 signed the measure that repealed the broadband privacy rules.

The FCC protections would have required internet service providers, such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T, to disclose what personal information they collect and share and would have required consent from consumers before sharing more sensitive information.

Privacy advocates believe Illinois and other states must step up to fill the void left by the shift in federal policy.

The Right to Know Act would require the operator of a commercial website or online service to make available "certain specified information" that has been disclosed to a third party and to provide an email address or toll-free telephone number for customers to request that information.

Major internet companies have been pushing back against the Illinois initiative, ramping up lobbying efforts as the privacy legislation advanced through the Senate, Hastings said. Online trade associations, including CompTIA, the Internet Association and NetChoice, also met with Hastings to voice opposition to the measure.

Opponents to the privacy bill gave voice to industry concerns Thursday during a debate on the Senate floor.

Sen. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst, questioned the value to consumers, and the potential burden it might place on e-commerce businesses in Illinois, if it passes into law.

"Every technology company that I've spoken to, from Microsoft down to Uber, Lyft ... is opposed to this bill," Nybo said. "People are watching across the country what happens on this bill. I think it sends the wrong message."

Meanwhile, Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, suggested internet privacy regulations were better left in the hands of federal regulators.

"The federal government has a system of rules and regulations to handle internet traffic," Barickman said. "I think we, as one of 50 states, (need) to let them handle those issues and not create additional burdens for our many people and businesses here in Illinois."

The Senate bill will head to committee in the House before it can be brought to a vote. A House committee approved a similar measure last month.

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