Minnesota Opts In On Privacy

Gov. Jesse Ventura signs Internet privacy bill.



Despite opposition from Internet service providers and online retailers, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura signed legislation Wednesday afternoon enacting the first state law in the country that spells out procedures that Internet companies must follow before using data collected from subscribers. The law will take effect in March.

ISPs, Internet content providers, and online marketers say that if other states follow suit, the proliferation of potentially conflicting Internet privacy laws will hinder their operations nationally.

The law, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Steve Kelley, says that any federal law passed on the same subject will pre-empt the state measure. Last week, the commerce committee of the U.S. Senate passed a similar bill.

The Minnesota law requires Web-site operators to place a "conspicuous" notice on their Web pages disclosing the steps consumers can take to prevent disclosure of personal data. The law lets operators choose whether consumers will "opt in" or "opt out" of further disclosure. Opt in means consumers must give their permission before their data is distributed, while the opt-out option lets operators use the data unless consumers specifically prohibit such sharing.

In addition to regulating Internet privacy, the law will require senders of junk E-mail, or spam, to include "ADV" in the subject line of messages to identify them as advertisements. Ads with sexual content must be identified by including "ADV-ADULT" in the subject line.

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