Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican leaders in the Florida House of Representatives announced legislation Monday meant to curb big tech’s power and offer Floridians more options to keep their data private.
“Status quo has all been a one-way street with big tech, where they have all the power, they dictate all the rules, they take whatever data they want, when they want it, and consumers get virtually nothing except the ‘privilege’ of using their own devices that they’ve already paid for. But we can’t let it go on any longer,” the governor explained at a press conference.
The bill, which DeSantis said has support in both the state House and Senate, affirms Florida residents’ “four main rights” to privacy, including the right to know what information companies have obtained about individuals, the right to order the big tech giants to delete that information, the right to prohibit the companies from selling personal data without permission, and the right to sue if a data breach occurs.
“We’re going to make sure consumers are in the driver’s seat to make that decision, not Silicon Valley or other global companies which are far more focused on their profits than on your privacy,” DeSantis said.
If passed, the bill will also force big tech giants to create an “opt-out” for users’ private personal information, ranging from user data generated on certain apps to biometric information such as fingerprints, voice recordings, and retinal scans
“Your data is tracked and too often is sold…this threat isn’t limited just to the data that you have on the internet but it ranges to even your most fundamental part of who you are, your DNA, but that doesn’t matter to tech companies who sell those to private vendors and often, as is covered in the ‘60 Minutes,’ foreign entities,” Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls explained. “This bill seeks to bring these things into the daylight. It seeks to change the dynamic that exists between our personal privacy and the powers of big tech and big technology.”
If any of the new terms are violated, the legislation would give both the Florida attorney general and any individuals in the Sunshine State the ability to bring legal action.
“This bill offers a common-sense solution to something that every Floridian is dealing with every time that they open their phone, or engage in the digital space, and our message here to Floridians today is this: the days where you have no control will soon be over,” Sprowls continued.
DeSantis previously expressed support for the legislation, condemning Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, and Apple for power abuses including censorship, de-platforming, and election interference.
“Big Tech has long since abdicated the protection of consumers for the pursuit of profit,” DeSantis said in a press conference at the Florida state Capitol at the beginning of February. “We can’t allow Floridians’ privacy to be violated, their voices and even their livelihoods diminished, and their elections interfered with.”