The Maine State Legislature’s Judiciary Committee is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss two pieces of data privacy legislation up for consideration next year.
A public hearing is being held for LD 1977 — An Act to Create the Data Privacy and Protection Act, while a work session is set for LD 1705 — An Act to Give Consumers Control over Sensitive Personal Data by Requiring Consumer Consent Prior to Collection of Data.
Public hearings offer an opportunity for any interested parties to offer comment on legislation that is under consideration by lawmakers.
Work sessions, on the other hand, are generally less formal and are held primarily to allow committee members to deliberate and vote on the matters before them.
LD 1977 — An Act to Create the Data Privacy and Protection Act
LD 1977 — introduced by Rep. Margaret M. O’Neil (D-Saco) — aims to enact an entirely new section of law geared toward protecting Mainers’ data privacy.
The proposed Data Privacy and Protection Act is comprised of three broad sections — prohibitions of particular actions, prohibitions against “retaliation” for the exercise of one’s data privacy rights, and requirements that data privacy policies be adopted by the relevant organizations.
Under this act, entities would — generally speaking — be barred from collecting and processing data that is irrelevant or unnecessary for the transactions and processes for which they are collecting the information.
The proposed law would also prevent entities from collecting or employing users’ sensitive data for the purposes of targeted advertising.
These entities would also be legally required to adopt “policies, practices, and procedures” aimed at mitigating privacy risks for their users.
Entities would also be bound by law to adopt publicly available privacy policies detailing exactly what information they collect and precisely how they plan to use it.
Also included in the proposed law is a prohibition against “retaliation” by entities for users’ decisions to exercise their right to privacy. For example, the law directly bans entities from using their pricing schemes to penalize customers who wish to exercise their right to privacy.
During tomorrow’s hearing, members of the public — as well as legislators and organization representatives — will have the opportunity to offer comments both in support of and opposition to LD 1977.
LD 1705 — An Act to Give Consumers Control over Sensitive Personal Data by Requiring Consumer Consent Prior to Collection of Data
A more targeted bill, LD 1705 — also sponsored by Rep. O’Neil — aims to protect users’ biometric information.
The proposed law would require private entities in possession of individuals’ biometric information to adopt policies concerning a retention schedule for the data, as well as guidelines for the eventual permanent destruction of the data.
Entities would also be required to disclose to users, free of charge, any biometric information of theirs that the entity possesses.
The law would also bar entities from collecting biometric information without a user’s informed, written consent.
Also prohibited by this law would be the “sale, lease, or trade” of users’ biometric information.
Similarly to LD 1977, this law would prevent entities from penalizing users for refusing to share biometric information. For example, entities would be barred from conditioning the provision of services on a user’s willingness to provide biometric data.
Entities would also be disallowed from charging additional fees to users who opted out of providing biometric information or downgrading the quality of services provided to such users.
The proposed law also provides specific remedies and penalties to be associated with violations of the guidelines and standards outlined in the legislation.
A great deal of testimony was submitted in relation to this legislation earlier this year.
Some — including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Bankers Association — argued that the bill ought to be rejected on the grounds that it would establish burdensome regulations on businesses and comprise Mainers’ cyber security by erecting barriers against useful means of protecting users data.
Others — such as the American Civil Liberties Union Maine and the Electronic Privacy Information Center — made the case that the legislation would play a key role in protecting Mainers’ biometric data against unwarranted and unwilling use and collection.
These and other concerns will likely be raised during tomorrow’s Judiciary Committee work session for the bill.
Tomorrow’s Judiciary Committee will not be the first time that lawmakers have considered Mainer’s electronic privacy in recent weeks.
During late September, the Committee reviewed two pieces of legislation focused on protecting Mainers’ electronic data in relation to use and collection by state and local entities.
LD 1056 — An Act Restricting State Assistance in Federal Collection of Personal Electronic Data and Metadata — sponsored by Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) was geared toward preventing state entities from collaborating with the federal government to collect data in a matter that would otherwise be prohibited by state law.
Supporters argued that this was a critical means of preventing state actors from circumventing existing privacy protections, while opponents made the case that this would bind the hands of law enforcement officials and restrict state-federal collaboration.
The other bill considered during that work session, LD 1576 — An Act to Update the Laws Governing Electronic Device Information as Evidence — was sponsored by O’Neil and sought to strengthen Fourth Amendment protections with regard to Mainers’ electronic data.
Essentially, the bill aimed to spell out the specific circumstances wherein police or other state officials would need to obtain a warrant in order to access an individual’s electronic data and when that would not be necessary.
While supporters suggested that this law would sure up Mainers’ Fourth Amendment rights and clear up exactly when police would need a warrant, opponents argued that the bill would create uncertainty and hinder law enforcement officials’ ability to effectively conduct investigations.
Tomorrow’s public hearing for LD 1977 is scheduled to begin at 10am at the State House in Room 438 and can be viewed online here.
The work session for LD 1705 is set to begin at 11am in the same location at the State House and can be viewed online here.
Rep. Margaret M. O’Neil (D-Saco) did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Maine Wire.