Maine fails to pass ambitious consumer data privacy act

A vote by the Maine Senate on the Data Privacy and Protection Act ends the chance of passage for what would have been the nation's strongest data privacy law.
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After the state’s House of Representatives passed it Tuesday, Maine’s state Senate on Wednesday failed to pass a data privacy bill that would have become the strongest data privacy law in the nation.

Wednesday’s 15-18 Senate vote on the Data Privacy and Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Maggie O’Neil, ends the bill’s chance of passage this legislative season. The bill was largely modeled on 2022’s federal data privacy proposal, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, that failed in Congress in 2022. It included “data minimization” obligations, which would have prevented companies from collecting unnecessary information — a hallmark of the federal American Privacy Rights Act proposal unveiled this week.

Although the Maine bill passed the Senate Judiciary committee, an amendment was added that removed its private right of action, a legal mechanism that allows individuals to bring civil suits against companies violating the law. Many data privacy experts consider private rights of action the most effective violation deterrence and an indicator of strength for a data privacy law.

The failed Maine legislation was another iteration of O’Neil’s aggressive stance on privacy: For the last two years, she has introduced biometric privacy legislation, but both of those bills also failed in the face of strong private sector opposition. O’Neil told StateScoop last year that until Congress acts, “it’s on states to put [privacy] protections in place.”


If the federal APRA proposal unveiled this week becomes law, any state data privacy rules might be preempted.

O’Neil’s bill was partially introduced this year in response to a competing data privacy law sponsored by state Sen. Lisa Keim. While Keim’s version lacked a private right of action, garnering more support from the private sector, the Maine legislature also rejected that bill on Wednesday.

“We are disappointed that the Senate today rejected LD 1977, which would have implemented the nation’s strongest privacy protections, following Tuesday’s House passage,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine said of O’Neil’s bill in a statement. “Maine has a proud tradition of leading the nation in data privacy, limiting data collection by internet service providers, banning governments from using facial recognition technology, and requiring warrants to obtain cell phone data. We are excited to continue working with lawmakers, small business leaders, and concerned Mainers to advance this important legislation next year.”

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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