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Internet Privacy Legislation Clears Illinois House Committee

"170 - Typing" by Flickr User Hillary / (CC X 2.0)

Two bills meant to expand internet privacy rights cleared procedural hurdles in the Illinois House.  

Chicago Democratic Rep. Art Turner Jr., says he wants to make it easier to find out what kind of information companies collect. He says that’s particularly important since President Trump and Republicans in Congress are scaling back federal protections.

“Illinois is in a unique position now to provide privacy rights and that protection for consumers here," Turner says.

Another Democratic Representative, Ann Williams, is sponsoring legislation that would make companies get permission before collecting, storing or sharing a user’s precise location. She says companies are making a lot of money off consumer information.

"If you do some reading, you’ll be terrified and never want to use Google again, because it’s really shocking when you see how that data is used, sold, and profited from."

Opponents of the measures include several Illinois business groups and big tech companies.  They claim the legislation would be burdensome and discourage innovation.

Carl Szabo is with industry group NetChoice, whose members include Google and Facebook. He notes that backers of the legislation include lawyers who specialize in class action lawsuits over privacy violations.

“It doesn’t create a right to know, it creates a right to sue by plaintiffs attorneys pushing this bill,” Szabo says.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.