Data privacy bill passes Florida House

by | Mar 3, 2022

The Florida House on Wednesday passed a measure that would give consumers more control over personal data collected by companies. House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, has pushed the legislation (HB 9), but businesses have fought it, at least in part because it would allow civil lawsuits if companies collect and sell personal data after being told not to do so.

While the House supported the bill in a 103-8 vote, Senate committees have not considered the proposal. The bill targets companies that have more than $50 million in annual revenue, derive at least half of their business from selling or sharing personal information and buy, sell or share personal information of 50,000 or more consumers for the purposes of targeted advertising.

“We live in a digital information age and there’s a tug-of-war over who owns your digital identity — you or the companies you interact with,” Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Sarasota Republican who sponsored the bill, said during debate Wednesday. The bill would create “necessary guardrails and standards based on full disclosure and openness of how our personal data is collected and used,” McFarland said.

But critics maintain that the proposal would cost Florida businesses billions of dollars.

During debate Tuesday, Rep. Andrew Learned, D-Brandon, argued that mid- and small-sized companies will be “scooped up” in the bill.

“There’s a reason there are 300 registered lobbyists on this bill. Businesses across the state of Florida are all crying foul, trying to save themselves from getting wrapped up in this,” Learned said Tuesday.

Associated Industries of Florida president and CEO Brewster Bevis warned that the measure would result in “substantial compliance, operational, and potential private litigation costs” for Florida companies.

“We support putting regulatory safeguards in place to prevent bad actors from trading in the misuse of consumer data. However, House Bill 9, as passed by the Florida House today, also targets legitimate businesses who responsibly use consumer data to the benefit of those consumers,” Bevis said in a prepared statement after Wednesday’s House vote.


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