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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: April 3, 2017 03:58 PM
From: Senator Art Haywood and Sen. Vincent J. Hughes
To: All Senate members
Subject: Internet Privacy
In the near future, we will introduce legislation preventing telecommunications companies or internet service providers from collecting and sharing a customer’s personal information without the customer’s express written consent.

In a stunning move on March 28, 2017, Congress voted to erase a regulation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that requires telecommunications companies and internet service providers to obtain a customer’s permission to use or sell his/her sensitive customer data. Such data may include the sites you visit, the times you log in and out of personal accounts, app usage, your location and more. The data may come from any device that accesses the internet, including a phone. If signed into law by the President, this would also block the FCC from creating similar rules in the future.

Right now, the only alternative to protect your privacy would be to use a virtual private network (VPN), which can cost $40-60/year. Additionally, telecomm giants like Comcast and AT&T proposed pay-to-play privacy plans for customers when they pushed for this legislation, which may cost $30/month.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees one’s right to privacy from the government, saying an individual has the right to be secure in his “persons, houses, papers and effects.” In the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision Riley v. California, Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out that, “Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans ‘the privacies of life’… The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” While this ruling applied to government searches and seizures, the Court obviously understands the pervasive nature of technology on one’s privacy today. It is obvious that Congress does not understand or does not respect the value of one’s privacy, allowing commercial companies to monitor private citizens and sell what they find to other commercial companies or the government.

Our legislation simply (1) forbids a telecommunications company or internet service providers from collecting and sharing a customer’s personal information and data without express written consent of the customer, and (2) forbids a telecommunications company or internet service provider from denying a customer service because the customer refuses to provide such consent.

Please join us to protect Pennsylvanians with this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1093