DeSantis signs ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ focused on data privacy

Ron DeSantis in Wildwood (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

At a news conference Tuesday in Wildwood, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed what he dubbed a “Digital Bill of Rights.”

According to DeSantis, the “Technology Transparency” bill (SB 262) gives Floridians the right to control their personal data, the right to know that their personal data will not be used against them when purchasing a home, being hired or obtaining health care; the right to opt out of having their personal data sold; the right to protect children from personal data collection.

“Floridians should have the right to control their own personal data,” DeSantis said. “If a multibillion-dollar company is conspiring to take your data and sell it or use it against you, it is your right to be able to protect that data. No longer will the Big Tech oligarchs be able to commandeer your personal information and deprive you of the right to access, confirm, or delete that data as you wish.”

SB 262 gives consumers the right to confirm, access, and delete their personal data from a social media platform and allows users to opt out of the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeted advertising and the sale of personal data. Additionally, users will be allowed to opt out of the collection of personal data through voice recognition. This bill adds biometric data and geolocation information to the definition of personal information under the Florida Information Protection Act.

The legislation also protects children in online spaces by prohibiting online platforms that provide a service, game, product, or feature to children from processing the personal information of any child or collecting, selling, sharing, or retaining any personal information that is not necessary to provide an online service, product, or feature.

“We are doing so much for the protection of both children and all Floridians when it comes to where our private information is going and how it’s being treated and giving us some control over our digital identity again,” House sponsor Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, told House members after the bill passed. “This is a really, really big deal, guys.”

The bill, which focuses on large online companies, drew heavy lobbying throughout the legislative session. The Senate voted unanimously to support the final version. The House approved it in a 110-2 vote, with Rep. Kristen Arrington, D-Kissimmee, and Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, dissenting.

SB 262 will also prohibit government employees from using their position to communicate with social media platforms to remove content or accounts from the platform.

A governmental entity may also not initiate or maintain any agreements or working relationships with a social media platform for the purpose of content moderation.

DeSantis received 39 bills from the Florida Legislature on Monday and has until June 20 to act on them.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.