On Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed into law a bill that creates a Digital Bill of Rights.
According to Center Square, the 53-page law, Senate Bill 262, seeks to create a stronger legal framework that protects the right of the individual to control their own personal data and the right to delete, confirm, and access personal data on social media platforms. It requires large search engines such as Google to disclose if their search algorithm is based on political ideology. It also prevents government-led censorship as state and local governments are prohibited under the act from communicating with social media platforms to censor user-generated content or accounts. Social media users can also opt out of having their personal data processed and sold for advertising purposes.
The governor of the Sunshine State at a news conference promoted the act. "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. "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."
DeSantis continued to tout the piece of legislation by saying, "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." The governor added that this censorship was often not the result of social media self-initiative but that these platforms worked with government employees like Dr. Fauci to target and silence dissent voices.
The governor painted a dystopian picture of the merger of Big Tech and the state and the violations of traditional American liberties that such a merger risked. He said, "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."
The bill additionally placed biometric and geological data in its definition of personal data within Florida law. It also adds protections for kids by prohibiting the unneeded collection, sale, and sharing of their personal data for online services targeted at children. The bill passed the Florida House of Representatives and Senate by an overwhelming majority. In the House back in May it secured 110-2 votes whereas in the Senate it passed by a vote of 40-0.
Violations of the law, which is set to go into effect on July 1st, 2024, may impose penalties of up to $50,000 per violation and possibly triple beyond that in some situations.