Minnesota lawmakers are pushing back against votes by the U.S. Congress to loosen online privacy regulations, which opponents fear could allow internet providers to sell customers’ browsing data.

The state Senate took up the issue late Wednesday, during debate over a broader economic development budget bill. Sen. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, offered a data privacy measure as an amendment that would prohibit internet providers in Minnesota from collecting personal information from customers without their permission.

The amendment was nearly stopped after a technical challenge from Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound. But all Senate DFLers and one Republican, Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove, voted to let the amendment go to a vote. (In the Senate, Republicans hold a one-seat majority, so Limmer’s vote was the deciding factor.)

The Senate later voted 66-1 to add the privacy protections to the bill.

The House also approved internet data protections in a vote earlier this week.

In a statement issued after the Senate vote, Latz said the amendment was “about standing up and saying that our online privacy rights are critically important.”

“It won’t circumvent the federal government, but it will give Minnesotans a legal recourse to protect their privacy,” he said.

Above: Sen. Ron Latz listens during a 2016 Senate committee debate. Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune

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