A free and open internet is a baseline requirement for a free and open society in the 21st century. Thanks to Senator Creem's leadership on internet rights and consumer protection, the Senate today passed legislation to defend net neutrality and monitor consumer privacy in Massachusetts. This legislation is an important first step towards rebuilding the critical regulations the Trump administration and its appointees at the FCC have killed over the past year. In the future, we look forward to working with the legislature to reinstate fundamental consumer privacy protections, to ensure Massachusetts consumers' internet use does not become advertising fodder for internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon.

Federal regulations have long barred telecommunications companies from listening in to our phone calls, and then using that information to target advertising. We have a right to privacy in our communications, from both the government and the telecommunications companies that maintain our communications networks. The same must be true in the digital age, when the internet has overtaken phone lines as the primary means by which we express ourselves and share information. Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon should not be able to charge us for monthly service, only to turn around and make a profit by using private information about our internet use--including our browsing histories--to profit on the advertising market. Unfortunately, thanks to the Trump administration's gutting of Obama-era rules, that's now possible.

This year we have learned that there is a dangerous underbelly of the online, surveillance-driven advertising market: the risk that foreign governments will use these data troves to hijack our political discourse, with disastrous consequences for our democracy and society. We should not allow this unregulated and dangerous marketplace to grow exponentially by allowing internet service providers, which have access to vast troves of information about their users, to participate.

The federal government has sided with the major corporations over the privacy and security interests of ordinary people, and it's up to Massachusetts legislators to change course, to protect privacy rights over corporate profits. We hope next session lawmakers will take a strong stand in defense of our right to communicate securely and privately, and pass comprehensive internet consumer privacy law.

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