Gov. DeSantis, House Speaker Sprowls continue targeting big tech

Gov. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, continued their push against big technology companies Monday, introducing legislation focused on data privacy and security.

The proposal (HB 969), sponsored by Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, is intended to allow consumers to request to delete or correct certain personal information, require businesses to allow consumers to "opt out" of the sale of personal information to third parties and give the attorney general the ability to take action over violations of the proposed consumer protections.

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"Big tech platforms have created a surveillance economy which enriches those platforms by free-riding on consumer data," DeSantis told reporters at the Capitol. "The scale and scope of consumer information that is collected, analyzed, and auctioned on a second-by-second basis is escalating daily. Floridians who use technology almost invariably entrust personal, financial and even biometric information to large, wealthy corporations."

The legislation, which didn’t have a Senate version on Monday, is intended to also expand a law known as the Florida Information Protection Act to include biometric data, such as fingerprints, voice recordings, and retina scans.

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McFarland said the "spirit of American ingenuity and innovation" must be balanced with "protections for our private information." On Feb. 2, DeSantis, a close ally of former President Donald Trump, was joined by Republican legislative leaders in laying out a plan to punish Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Twitter for blacklisting users or putting gags on social media posts.

DeSantis repudiated Twitter for blocking Trump from its site and scolded Amazon for dropping Parler, a social media app used by many conservatives. Both actions occurred after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a violent attempt to prevent the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

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