AUGUSTA — Lawmakers voted Thursday to shelve a bill that would have prohibited internet service providers from selling customers’ browsing histories or other personal data.

The bill, L.D. 1610, was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in response to a congressional vote that some fear opens the door for internet service providers to share customers’ personal data. In a controversial vote, Congress halted a pending Federal Communications Commission rule requiring companies that provide internet service to obtain customers’ consent before sharing any data about which websites the customers frequent or their Web searches.

Members of the Energy and Utilities Committee recommended that the Legislature “carry over” the bill, a move that keeps it alive but delays consideration until next year’s session. The legislation stated that internet providers could “use, disclose, sell or permit access to a customer’s customer personal information if the customer gives the provider express, affirmative consent to such use, disclosure, sale or access.”

Lead bill sponsor Sen. Shenna Bellows, D-Manchester, was still pleased with the outcome because she said it gives lawmakers more time to develop an even stronger bill “with clear enforcement authority.”

“I am willing to work with stakeholders on all sides to make sure we are protecting – and really protecting – customers and not just paying lip service,” Bellows said.

The late-filed bill was the subject of a lengthy public hearing on Wednesday involving former chairmen of the Federal Trade Commission and national organizations involved in internet privacy issues.


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