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Jeff Brandes files cell phone privacy bill

State Sen. Jeff Brandes has again filed a bill that would protect individuals’ privacy contained on cell phones and other electronic devices as well as GPS location data.

The bill would require a warrant to access electronic information from a person suspected of a crime. A warrant is not currently required to search such electronic data.

The bill (SB 210) covers cell phones and any other electronic devices that connect to the internet including home assistant devices like Amazon’s Alexa, which record audio in order to respond to commands.

The bill language explains the update to search requirements are needed to respond to increases in technology that collect more and more personal data on an individual’s internet searches, personal information, business transactions and other identifying information.

It’s aimed at protecting innocent people while still providing a means for law enforcement to obtain search warrants through due process.

Brandes filed a similar bill last year, but it failed to gain traction.

In other bill action, Brandes filed a measure managing how patients and their families can handle end of life choices in patients who are terminally ill.

The bill (SB 206) establishes the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) program within the Florida Department of Health.

The bill creates a series of guidelines and reporting requirements for patients or their representatives to establish medical directives for patients who are likely to pass within one year of signing the POLST document.

The form must be reviewed frequently including when a patient is moved from one medical facility to another, discharged from a medical facility or when their medical condition or prognosis significantly changes.

It also provides opportunities for expedited judicial intervention if a family member challenges a patient’s personal representative’s decision to sign a POLST.

If there are more than one POLST or other end-of-life directives, whichever was signed most recently would be considered valid.

For minors, a physician would have to attest that a POLST would be in the patient’s best interest and then signed by the minor patient’s personal representative.

Existence of the form cannot affect a patient’s insurance coverage.

The bill also clarifies that the act is not intended to condone euthanasia or mercy killing, rather it only allows a terminally ill person to die naturally without medical intervention.

The bill also provides for rules on how to store directive information so physicians can better access the information.

A third bill (SB 208) exempts medical directive documents including the POLST from public record.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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