Consumer Reports, American Conservative Union back data privacy bill

Wooden block with lock graphic on laptop keyboard. Computer security concept.
The bill passed the House last week but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.

Consumer Reports and the American Conservative Union urged House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson to support a bill (HB 9) that would give consumers more control over their personal data, including the right to request companies delete or stop selling it.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Fiona McFarland, would give consumers the right to determine what information has been collected, request the data be deleted or corrected, and opt out of the sale or sharing of that personal information.

Sprowls has already made known his support for the bill, which passed the full House last week with a 103-8 vote. However, the Senate version, SB 1864 by Republican Sen. Jennifer Bradley, has not been heard in committee.

“HB 9 would strengthen the rights of Floridians with regard to how large technology companies use their personal information. Too many big tech companies make it difficult for consumers to protect their privacy. Selling our private information when we choose to opt out is not unlike the theft of personal property. Indeed, in the 21st century, data rights should be protected in the same way as property rights are,” American Conservative Union General Counsel David Safavian wrote.

Consumer Reports senior policy analyst Maureen Mahoney, meanwhile, lauded the bill and said the protections it contains “are long overdue.”

“Consumers are constantly tracked, and information about their online and offline activities are combined to provide detailed insights into a consumers’ most personal characteristics, including health conditions, political affiliations, and sexual preferences. This information is sold as a matter of course, is used to deliver targeted advertising, facilitates differential pricing, and enables opaque algorithmic scoring — all of which can lead to disparate outcomes along racial and ethnic lines,” she wrote.

Mahoney praised the bills’ provisions on targeted advertising, authorized agents and data security backed by a “strong enforcement.”

“We applaud you for including a private right of action. Given the AG’s limited resources, a private right of action is key to incentivizing companies to comply. Further, it’s appropriate that consumers are able to hold companies accountable in some way for violating their rights,” Mahoney wrote.

Consumer Reports, however, would like to see the bill go a step further by requiring companies “to honor browser privacy signals as opt outs,” as is required by legislation passed in California and Colorado.

Polling shows voters hold a similarly positive view of the legislation.

A poll published last week found that 96% of Florida voters are opposed to businesses collecting and selling personal data and that 79% support legislation that would provide consumers more control over their personal data.

Criticism of the bill has largely come from businesses and industry associations — such as the Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Retail Federation and Florida TaxWatch. They have warned the measure could be financially crippling.

Supporters of the legislation, however, say the bill is needed in order to curb predatory data mining and the potential costs would be shouldered only by companies that actively trade in consumer data — businesses that do not sell, buy or share data would not be impacted and those that contract with third-party vendor for data services could avoid running afoul of the law by prohibiting the vendor from selling customer data.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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