FARGO - Internet service providers in the area say they won't alter their policies concerning customers' private data now that Federal Communications Commission regulations have been repealed that would have required ISPs to do more to protect that information.
President Trump signed the resolution repealing those rules Monday, April 3.
The now-repealed regulations were approved in October 2016 and were to take effect in December. They would have required ISPs to get consumer consent before selling or sharing such things as Social Security numbers, web browsing history, contents of emails, precise geo-location data, financial and health information, and even children's information.
"They (privacy rules) aren't going to change at all," McAdaragh said. "Already, we're regulated just like Google and anyone is through the (Federal Trade Commission).
"I can't speak for anybody else in the industry, but we don't think it's very good long-term strategy to do things that are invasive and the like," he said. "No, we wouldn't sell."
Representatives for Cable One and 702 Communications said their firms also won't change their privacy practices.
"We take our customers' privacy very seriously. I can't see a scenario where we would sell our customers' information for profit," said Brian Crommett, service manager for 702 Communications, which serves the Fargo-Moorhead and Wahpeton, N.D.-Breckenridge, Minn., areas.
"There is an implicit trust between an internet service provider and a customer," he said. "As long as you're not doing anything illegal ... we never monitor what you do. And we certainly wouldn't want to sell who you are, or anything like that."
Cable One media representative Patricia Niemann released a statement just before the president overturned the FCC rules saying Cable One would not change its privacy practices or policIes.
"The protection of customer privacy and personal information is very important to Cable ONE," she said in her statement. "Cable ONE does not sell our customer's personal information or sell customers' online browsing information."
"It's definitely not as scary" as some customers might think, said Rachel Woodman, regional spokeswoman for CenturyLink.
Woodman said CenturyLink does not have a formal statement, but instead referred to one issued last week by USTelecom, an industry trade group.
USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said the repeal "is another step to remove unnecessary rules and regulations that handicap economic growth and innovation, and moves the country one step closer to ensuring that consumers' private information is protected uniformly across the entire internet ecosystem."
Spalter said the repeal "would simply maintain the status quo on privacy protections by removing the misguided rules adopted last year. We continue to support the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) privacy framework and look forward to working on a more uniform air-tight approach to privacy that doesn't advance a Balkanized regulatory structure."
K. Brewer Doran, dean of Concordia College's Offutt School of Business, said because the rules weren't to take effect until December, consumers won't see any difference yet.
She said Trump believes the FTC should control both the ISPs and internet companies like Google and Facebook.
Still, in terms of regulation, we are now in "a black hole," with a patchwork of state laws regulating what can be done with consumers' private information and voluntary compliance by the ISPs, she said.
Doran said that for the big ISPs, "the backlash could be so extreme" that they would not take the chance of selling or sharing customer data.
"But people should be aware that your internet service provider has always had access to that information, and it's out there," she said. "I think it's really important that people think through how much of their information they're giving to whom."
She said it's also important for voters to pressure their lawmakers to enact privacy protections.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Minnesota Democrats Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar joined 43 other senators who urged President Trump to veto the Senate resolution that overturned the FCC rule.
In a separate statement, Heitkamp added:
"I don't know why anyone would want the company they pay to get internet service to have access to their private information. ... North Dakotans value their privacy - as should every American - but this legislation takes away that fundamental right, and instead, sells it to the highest bidder."