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Privacy Protection Act Nears Final Passage

April 28th, 2021 by Jake Stofan

In the waning days of session lawmakers are making a final dash to pass new privacy protections for Floridians.

The bill sponsors say the legislation is aimed at giving Floridians more say in how their data is used, but opponents say the bill would be much further reaching.

The Florida Privacy Protection Act would require companies that handle the data of 100,000 or more people and make 50 percent or more of their profits from selling or sharing that data to let consumers know what data is being collected and sold and give them the option of opting out entirely.

According to House sponsor Fiona McFarland, companies couldn’t deny you service if you opt to not share your data.

That means companies would have to find another way to make up the lost revenue, likely by offering paid subscriptions.

“If your streaming music service has decided that the value of your data is worth $5 a month to them, and by you opting out of them using your data, they can then charge you that $5 per month,” said McFarland.

The obvious targets are big tech companies, but State Senator Jeff Brandes told us he’s worried they wouldn’t be the only ones impacted.

“You’re going to catch businesses like Publix and Walt Disney,” said Brandes.

He said a similar law in California is estimated to have cost businesses $65 billion.

“We can’t be piecemealing, like a patchwork quilt, privacy laws around this country and expecting businesses to try to comply,” said Brandes.

But the McFarland argues the cost of doing nothing outweighs the risks.

“Our right to liberty, to make the decisions for ourselves as informed consumers, is just not happening when it comes to how our data is treated online,” said McFarland.

The House and Senate still have to agree on a final product.

The House version allows individuals to sue companies if their privacy rights are violated, while the Senate version leaves compliance enforcement to the Attorney General.

The Senate amended the bill Wednesday, which means both chambers still have to vote on a final product before session ends Friday.

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