Minnesota internet provider says it will never sell your browsing history

"We have never sold member web browsing history and have no plans to do so in the future," said the ISP's CEO.
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Internet service providers might soon be able to collect and sell your browsing history without telling you first, but one Minnesota-based ISP is promising not to do so.

Paul Bunyan Communications, which provides internet service (including 1 Gb fiber lines) to parts of northern Minnesota, said this week that "no matter what the law allows," the company does "not collect and sell member's web browsing history."

"We have never sold member web browsing history and have no plans to do so in the future regardless of what the rules and regulations may allow," Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications' CEO and general manager, said in a news release.

Johnson added Paul Bunyan has been getting calls from concerned customers about it, and they want to be very clear that they will not sell the data.

Paul Bunyan Communications dates back to the 1950s and is a co-op – meaning the customers who pay for the internet service are also part owners essentially.

"Any provider who sells their customers' web browsing history without their consent is putting profits ahead of the trust of its customers and we believe that flies in the face of common decency, customer privacy, and certainly our cooperative values and principles," Johnson continued in the statement.

Comcast also came out Friday with a blog post, detailing how it does not sell broadband customers' individual web browsing data.

"We did not do it before the FCC’s rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so," the blog post says.

What's this new legislation?

The new legislation, which narrowly passed the U.S. House and U.S. Senate recently, would nix rules requiring internet providers to get permission before sharing some information about your internet use. It has not been signed into law by President Donald Trump as of Friday morning, though he's expected to at some point in the near future.

Internet privacy advocates see this as an attack on consumers and net neutrality, but supporters say websites already collect and sell this data anyway, so why is it OK to only block ISPs from doing so?

In Minnesota, there were enough concerns that 66 state senators voted to add an extra layer of protection within the state – the proposal would require ISPs operating in Minnesota to get written permission from a customer before collecting any data.

That provision could get cut from a final, larger bill it's a part of before it becomes law, however.

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