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DeSantis introduces data privacy bill to protect Floridians personal info

DeSantis introduces data privacy bill in Florida. (Pool)
DeSantis introduces data privacy bill in Florida. (Pool)
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Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday the introduction of a data privacy bill geared toward giving Floridians more control over data amassed online and often compiled by large technology companies.

DeSantis says big tech companies who want to collect your information must tell you how they plan to use it.

"Floridians should not have to give up their most intimate information to use a mobile device, surf the internet or connect with friends and family on social media," he said. "Big tech platforms have created a surveillance economy which enriches those platforms by free riding on consumer data."

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The bill, introduced Wednesday in the state House of Representatives by Rep. Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota), would give Floridians the option to opt out of the data collection process and would force companies to disclose exactly what data they collect, store, and sell from customers.

Additionally, the bill would allow Floridians to request that companies delete their data or fix data that is incorrect.

"We may know that we go to a certain website, but we may not know that website collects information about us and sends it to somebody else," said Bill Dillon, a data privacy attorney with Gunster, a Florida law firm. "[The bill is] not going to halt the practice of data sharing but its going to make the people who are doing it more transparent."

Dillon noted the proposed legislation is similar to a 2018 data privacy law, passed in California.

Similar to the California law, Florida's proposed legislation would only apply to businesses with a global annual revenue of at least $25 million.

"Any Floridian who uses any kind of technology will be impacted by this bill," DeSantis said.

Silicon Valley companies frequently gather personal data, which can include but isn't limited to search history, shopping history, social media usage, and location history. While some companies pledge to keep that data secure, other companies sell off that data to large firms which intern package that information for advertisers to market back to users.

"You are basically naked on the net because everything you’re doing is being revealed," technology expert Craig Agranoff said. "Many people say 'I don’t want to share my data with other people.' The opposite is [without it] you’re going to get ads anyway, but they’re going to have zero relevance to you."

Websites, apps, and other companies often outline their data collection policies in rarely read privacy policies, often posted as the final link on a webpage. Some companies, like Facebook, have extensive privacy policies and even often the option to view and download your data.

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But that doesn't happen everywhere.

"You can go to any website and click on the various privacy policies and they not the same. They’re all over the place. Some of them are really good, some of them are scant," Dillon said.

Florida's proposed law would require that companies beef up their privacy policies and itemize exactly what data is up for grabs when users log in.

"Sunshine is the best disinfectant and its about time we clean up how our personal data is being stored and how its used," Florida Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls (R) said in Monday's news conference.

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