Consumer privacy push in Florida limps forward

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Big Data won a key concession from Florida lawmakers Tuesday when it persuaded a legislative committee to defang a proposal advertised by Gov. Ron DeSantis as a call to arms against tech giants’ unfettered powers to share and sell consumers’ personal information.

Intense lobbying from business advocates prompted lawmakers to strip away a provision that would have allowed consumers to sue for the unauthorized collection and sale of their personal data.

After winning that concession from the Senate Rules Committee, lobbyists for the business community then attempted to kill the bill in its entirety — arguing that the remaining provisions would still be too expensive and overly burdensome.

Nevertheless, the weakened measure limped out of its final Senate committee and could soon be headed to the full chamber for consideration.

Due to the rise of computers and the ubiquity of smartphones — as well as the emergence of technology that can seemingly track a person's every move — consumer privacy has become a national concern. And with federal action moving glacially, Florida and other states have moved to address tech-related issues on their own.

A version in the Florida House retains, for now, a provision allowing individual consumers to sue and is awaiting a final committee hearing.

The House measure would require companies to divulge what data they are gathering, force them to delete it upon consumer request and prohibit them from sharing or selling it when told not to. They could be sued if they don’t comply.

The Senate version removed an individual's right to sue, reserving legal action to the discretion of the state's attorney general. It also redefined what kinds of businesses would have to comply with the proposed rules, designed to exclude smaller companies from the new rules.