(The Center Square) – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law on Tuesday a bill that creates a Digital Bill of Rights for Floridians.
Senate Bill 262 sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, creates the Digital Bill of Rights, which includes the right to control personal data and the right to delete, confirm, and access personal data on social media platforms.
The bill also requires that large search engines like Google to disclose whether they are prioritizing their search results based on political ideology and prevents government-led censorship. State and local government employees are prohibited from communicating with social media platforms to censor content or accounts.
“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,” DeSantis said at a news conference in The Villages. “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.”
Social media users in Florida will be able to opt out of having their personal data processed for targeted advertising purposes, and the sale of personal data, including opting out of data collection through voice recognition.
DeSantis noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government had colluded with Big Tech, using social media platforms and search engines to stifle dissent and squash free speech.
“We of course knew during COVID they were censoring people who were speaking out against lockdowns, speaking out against mask mandates, speaking out against school closures,” DeSantis said, adding that Big Tech was not working alone in its mass censorship, and was working closely with government employees like Dr. Anthony Fauci.
DeSantis noted that Big Tech was working as an arm of the state, essentially subcontracting for the government to violate the First Amendment rights of Americans.
“The fusion of government and tech for the purpose of censoring things that dissent from the official narrative, that’s a huge, huge threat to freedom of speech in this country,” DeSantis said.
The bill adds biometric and geolocation information to the definition of personal information within the Florida Information Protection Act. Search engines will be obligated to publish up-to-date descriptions of how they determine rankings, what parameters are used and the significance of those parameters used to prioritize political ideology or political partisanship in search results.
Online safety for children will also get a boost as the legislation protects children in online spaces by prohibiting the unnecessary collection, sale, or sharing of a child’s personal information for online services that provide a service, game or feature targeted at children.
SB 262 builds on the recently signed SB 662, which protects the online information of Florida students and is known as the Student Online Personal Information Protection Act. Online operators are substantially restricted from collecting, disclosing, or selling a student’s school data, including to third parties, and operators are also prohibited from engaging in targeted advertising based on information collected from educational technology.