Data privacy bill ready for House vote

Wooden block with lock graphic on laptop keyboard. Computer security concept.
The bill sailed through the House process unanimously.

The House is set to vote on a bill supporters say would protect Floridians’ data privacy online.

That measure (HB 969), a priority of Gov. Ron DeSantis, would give consumers the right to control how their personal data is shared and sold. That data helps businesses know more about individual consumers and help make things like targeted ads possible.

Rep. Fiona McFarland, the bill’s sponsor, said internet users and businesses are in a “tug of war” over who owns that data.

“Today, we no longer control or own information as it exists online,” the Sarasota Republican said. “But in Florida, that could change.”

Business interests have been united in opposition, saying the measure would create untold operational and legal expenses. McFarland and others contend businesses just don’t want to be forced to disclose what data they have on their customers.

“Today, our young people are uploading pictures of themselves to find out what celebrities they look the most like without a second thought,” McFarland said. “While I celebrate the spirit of American ingenuity that has created such convenience for us online, we must balance this with protections for control and privacy over our own information.”

Her bill merely creates an expectation of privacy, she continued.

The bill would give consumers the right to find out what personal information a company has on them, how the company got it, and what the company does with it. It gives consumers rights to ask that data be deleted or corrected, and to opt-out of having their personal data sold to or shared with other companies.

Consumers would have a private right of action, allowing individuals to bring cases against businesses rather than the state.

The Attorney General could sue on behalf of Floridians and levy fines for violations, too.

The Senate version (SB 1734), carried by Fleming Island Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, is ready for the Senate floor.

The bill passed unanimously through the House committee process. However, it drew opposition from some Democrats and Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Florida, the country’s third most populous state, would be the latest to enact consumer protections against Big Data’s ability to harvest personal information about how people conduct their day-to-day lives, including where they shop and eat, what they read and what they share online.

The resulting dossier is often bought and sold in a lucrative marketplace that has become an important element of modern commerce.

“It’s clear we all agree that we need to do something about data privacy,” McFarland said, adding that “the tech world has perhaps gone just a little bit too far without us knowing what’s going on.”

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Content from the Associated Press was used in this post.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.



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