Telecommunication companies drop federal lawsuit against Maine, Attorney General reports

Tue, 09/06/2022 - 12:00pm

    In a Sept. 6 news release, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey said the nation’s largest telecommunication providers dropped a federal lawsuit challenging a Maine law that limits internet service providers’ ability to use, disclose, or sell their customers’ personal information.

    The ISPs filed suit in February of 2020 in response to the passage of LD 946, sponsored by then-Senator Shenna Bellows in 2019. The law restricts ISPs’ use of customers’ data, such as web browsing history, location, the content of communications, and financial and health information.

    For the last two and a half years, the Maine Office of the Attorney General defended the law, achieving an initial victory in July 2020 when Judge Lance E. Walker of the United States District Court for the District of Maine ruled that Maine’s law is not preempted by federal law, the release said.

    Litigation of the industry’s First Amendment claim continued for another two years, and the State achieved another victory in August 2022 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 lawsuit.  The dismissal was filed Friday, September 2.

    “Maine’s Legislature wisely sought to protect Maine residents by restricting the disclosure and use of their most private and personal information,” said A.G. Frey, in the release. “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.”

    The Attorney General thanked AAGs Jason Anton and Paul Suitter for their hard work on this case.