AUGUSTA — On Friday, Sept. 2, the nation’s largest telecommunication providers dropped a federal lawsuit challenging a Maine law limiting internet service providers’ ability to use, disclose or sell their customers’ personal information.
The ISPs filed suit in February 2020 in response to the passage of LD 946, sponsored by then-Sen. Shenna Bellows in 2019. The law restricts ISPs’ usage of their customers’ data like web browsing history, location, the content of communications, and financial and health information.
For the last 2 1/2 years, the Maine Office of the Attorney General has been “vigorously defending” the law, according to an announcement Sept. 6, achieving an initial victory in July 2020 when Judge Lance E. Walker of the U.S. 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 last month when Judge Walker denied the industry’s motion to bar the state’s expert witness from testifying and expressed skepticism about the admissibility 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 agreed to reimburse the state for over $55,000 in costs the Attorney General’s Office incurred in defending the suit. The dismissal was filed Sept. 2.
Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said in announcing the dismissal:
“Maine’s Legislature wisely sought to protect Maine residents by restricting 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.”
Frey thanked Assistant Attorneys General Jason Anton and Paul Suitter “for their hard work on this case.”