2017-06-08 / Editorial

Protecting our privacy important

Beyond the Headlines
by Rep. Justin Chenette

The protection of personal privacy is an issue that transcends party affiliation, where you come from and is something that overall Mainers value.

I’d like to give you a scenario.

What if your personal internet search history was shared with everyone in your neighborhood? What if it was shared with all of your co-workers? What about any information you enter on a website like vital health information and your location to the highest bidder?

We aren’t talking in the abstract. This would be real life if we don’t act now.

Earlier this year, Congress voted to put corporate profits over consumer rights by gutting online privacy protections. This really shouldn’t surprise anyone, but honestly, I don’t understand why. No one said during the last election “Hey! Sell my private information.” Out of all the issues Congress could be dealing with they start with this? They chose corporations over constituents. Now, internet service providers can sell our private information without even asking our permission first.

Internet service providers have access to some of our most private information, such as browsing history, location and contacts. Using the internet shouldn’t mean giving up our privacy. It is something that has become a vital aspect of our lives from the social to the work-a-day world.

We could wait around for Congress to hear our concerns, make a change and overturn their own votes, but we’d be waiting a very long time. Luckily, we can push back on the state level to protect our citizens from the federal government’s reckless action.

Alongside Sen. Shenna Bellows, I’ve been working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce legislation to prohibit a provider of broadband internet access service from using, disclosing, selling or permitting access to personal information unless the customer expressly consents to that use, disclosure, sale or access. Pretty simple and straightforward. Hopefully this means it will pass without a hitch. The fact that there is bipartisan support for the bill’s introduction is a good sign that this is about what’s best for the public.

Expecting the industry to self-regulate has been proven ineffective. We as the people’s lobbyists must protect the public’s right to privacy. It boggles the mind that any elected official can think it’s a great thing to sell out their own constituents. Although the Constitution does not explicitly include the right to privacy, the Supreme Court has found that the Constitution implicitly grants a right to privacy against governmental intrusion. While in this case it appears the government is helping to advance corporate intrusion in our private lives.

Justin Chenette is serving his first term as the youngest senator in the Maine Senate representing Saco, Old Orchard Beach, Hollis, Limington and Buxton. He previously served two terms in the Maine House of Representatives. Outside the Legislature, he is owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/ CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Sign up for legislative updates at www.justinchenette.com or www.Facebook.com/JustinChenette.com.

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