THE VILLAGES, FLORIDA — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 262 – creating a Digital Bill of Rights for Floridians.
Google and other large search engines are now required to disclose whether they prioritize search results based on political ideology. Additionally, the legislation bans government-led censorship by prohibiting state or local government employees from colluding with Big Tech companies to censor protected speech.
“Floridians should have the right to control their own personal data,” said Governor DeSantis. “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. 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.”
The newly created Digital Bill of Rights gives Floridians:
- The right to control personal data, including the right to confirm, access, and delete your personal data from a social platform
- The right to know that your personal data will not be used against you when purchasing a home, obtaining health insurance, or being hired
- The right to know how internet search engines manipulate search results
- The right to opt out of having personal data sold
- The right to protect children from personal data collection.
BIG TECH SURVEILLANCE
“What we see today is more akin to surveillance advertising, and Floridians lack even the most basic control over our information,’’ Sen. Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) told the Senate Rules Committee before it approved the measure.
Under the new law, children will now be protected in online spaces as online platforms are now prohibited from collecting the personal information of any child that is not necessary to provide the online service.
But will Big Tech comply? One of the requirements is that search engines publish an up-to-date plain language description of the most significant parameters that determine a website’s ranking, which could be subject to interpretation.
The legislation does clearly state that online search engines must also publish the relative importance of those parameters, including the prioritization or de-prioritization of political partisanship or political ideology in search results.
The Florida Department of Legal Affairs can assess penalties on companies who defy the law – up to $50,000 per violation. Civil penalties may also be tripled if the violation involves a Florida consumer who is known to be a child.
Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody says individuals who feel their rights have been violated can submit a complaint to the state, which may trigger an investigation.
Last November, Moody announced that Google agreed to a record $391.5 million settlement with Florida and 39 other states over its location tracking practices.
Florida’s share of the settlement was $26 million. The agreement requires Google to be more transparent with consumers and make key information about location tracking more prominent in its settings.
“Big Tech is watching us, but Silicon Valley needs to know that we are watching them too, and if they violate our consumer protection laws, we will take strong action to protect our citizens,” Moody said when announcing the settlement.