Senate approves possible data privacy deal

Wooden block with lock graphic on laptop keyboard. Computer security concept.
The bill is bouncing between the House and Senate as Session winds down.

A data privacy deal appears close to being uploaded to the Governor’s Office.

Sen. Jennifer Bradley filed a series of amendments to the online privacy bill (SB 262) making changes to a version passed by the House. The Senate unanimously approved the changes on Thursday and kicked the bill back to the lower chamber.

“With these amendments, the Senate will achieve historic data privacy protections for all Floridians while ensuring the ability of small businesses to continue to engage in online commerce,” the Fleming Island Republican said.

The amendments take out sections of the bill on tracking personal data, but replace that with language still requiring opt-ins by consumers to share information.

An eight-page amendment covers a range of topics, including what data shared online can be tracked and traded by private companies. Proposed changes also update the definition of “targeted advertising.”

One provision would also provide an opt-out regarding facial recognition software. Another makes clear smart devices that record audio cannot be used to collect information when the devices are not activated and authorized to do so by consumers.

Most important in reaching a deal with the House, amendments preserve protection of children in online spaces added by the lower chamber.

Notably, the National Federation of Independent Businesses supports the language as amended.

“We’ve taken a hard look at the data privacy bill, and we are not concerned that it will have a far-reaching impact on small businesses,” NFIB State Executive Director Bill Herrle said. “The bill exempts businesses with less than $1 billion in revenue each year.”

The Senate previously passed a version of the data privacy bill on a 38-0 vote. The bill at that point gave consumers the right to access, confirm and correct personal data used by tech companies, and to opt out of having their data processed for targeted advertising or from the sale of that data.

But when the legislation went to the House, representatives added language allowing the Attorney General to bring action and further restricting tracking of consumer information absent an opt-in.

The bill cleared the lower chamber but on a 106-10 vote. Bipartisan opposition raised concerns about the impacts on small businesses in Florida that have increasingly relied on digital advertising to reach consumers.

Bradley believes the amendments will find support in both chambers, hopefully on Thursday.

“The amended bill also creates a safer online environment for kids and ends government censorship of online information,” she said.

Data privacy legislation has drawn bipartisan support from lawmakers, but has failed to make it to the Legislature the last two years. It has stalled before in the face of opposition from major tech companies and small business advocates.

The Legislative Session is scheduled to end Friday.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 4, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    If you care about privacy, don’t leave it to any US government, neither federal nor state. Get yourself a VPN that allows you to pick a country that protects privacy of its citizens, and pick that country for your location. It’s mighty revealing when you land on a site that says you cannot use it due to European data privacy laws. You know right then and there to avoid that website, and they’ve been selling you for however long you been using that site without VPN.

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