TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — New legislation that aims to protect citizens from companies secretly collecting and selling their personal information has small business owners worried it may slice into their revenue, subscriptions and customer bases.
SB 262 – filed by Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) – is a comprehensive ban on the non-consensual sale of private personal information between online platforms. It grants consumers the right to opt in or out of targeted advertising, and aims to create a transparent relationship between consumers and businesses.
“MORE AKIN TO SURVEILLANCE ADVERTISING”
“Thousands and thousands of data points about us each and every day are hoarded by companies who use them to direct targeted advertising to us,” Bradley began. “What we see today is more akin to surveillance advertising, and Floridians lack even the most basic control over our information.”
The bill was lauded by the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF), who were grateful that it “allows companies to effectively reach their consumers on a particular platform, but prevents the sale or sharing between platforms,” the group’s vice president of governmental affairs said, referencing the bill allowing for contextual advertising to increase profits but prohibiting targeted advertising’s secret data sharing between platforms.
NOT TARGETING CUSTOMERS = “HURT” SMALL BUSINESSES
Small business groups and owners worried about the legislation’s restrictions on targeted advertising, fearing that they could lose out to larger businesses and undergo employee cuts.
“Because of the targeting ability with online advertising, it allows us to reach the right customers and present them with the right products,” the CEO of a small skincare business in Doral explained. “Any reduction in the ability to effectively target the consumers is really going to hurt us.”
The Connected Commerce Council, an organization that promotes digitally empowered small businesses, agreed. “Targeted advertising is not a luxury, it’s something that Florida businesses use everyday to operate and grow locally. Small publishers who have to forego targeted advertising will lose 50 percent of their revenue and half of their employees.”
“BUSINESSES CANNOT GO AND SELL OUR MOST PRIVATE INFORMATION”
In her closing statements Sen. Bradley pointed out that her bill does not ban targeted advertising; it bans secretly sharing personal information without consumer consent.
“We do not ban targeted advertising. This bill provides an opportunity for consumers who do not wish to be reached in that way – who wish to have some control over their very private information – to be able to say ‘continue targeting advertising, just not to me,’” she stated. “It provides that businesses cannot go and sell our most private personal information – our biometric information, our genetic information – without our consent.”
The bill passed the Rules Committee unanimously, advancing to the Senate floor. In a good sign for the legislation, its companion bill in the House, HB 1547, also passed committee today.