- Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled his proposal for a ‘digital bill of rights.’
- The package of legislation includes a series of provisions to enhance user privacy on internet platforms and protect minors from being targeted online.
- The proposal would also make it illegal to access platforms like TikTok using an internet connection provided by government buildings, schools, or universities.
- DeSantis’ proposal further bans state agency partnerships with social media platforms to facilitate censorship initiatives, while also taking steps to prohibit data-gathering methods utilized by GPS or online shopping software.
Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a series of legislative proposals on Wednesday that he states will make up a ‘digital bill of rights’ aimed at bolstering data privacy and weakening censorship claims.
According to DeSantis, the proposals include requirements that ‘big tech’ companies heighten the security of private conversations, protect the right of individuals to participate in platforms without censorship, protect the right to information about how search engines utilize optimization patterns in search results, and protect the right to control personal data.
The proposals also include provisions to safeguard children from potential online targeting, including unauthorized surveillance of any private phone or text conversations. The legislation will additionally take steps to prevent the selling of personal data involving a minor.
“This is helping parents and is, of course, part of a larger effort to protect parent’s rights,” said DeSantis.
The governor also stated that if adopted, the proposal would make it illegal to access platforms like TikTok using an internet connection provided by government buildings, schools, or universities.
DeSantis’ proposal further bans state agency partnerships with social media platforms to enact censorship initiatives, while also taking steps to prohibit data-gathering methods utilized by GPS or online shopping software.
Several bills have been filed in recent weeks to restrict access to TikTok and other popular social media platforms, including a bill amendment filed by Rep. Brad Yeager that would require Florida schools to block students from accessing social media sites on school grounds. The legislation also seeks to implement social media safety education in grades 6 through 12.
Florida school districts have long been permitted to revoke student access from websites via a firewall, with the measure oftentimes utilized to prevent access to websites hosting lewd or controversial content.
A separate bill filed by Sen. Danny Burgess in December also aims to include social media education in Florida’s standardized curriculum.
“For better or worse, social media is a part of our society,” said Burgess on Twitter. “Knowledge is power, but due to the rapidly changing nature of social media and the continuous development of new apps targeting children, it is hard for parents to feel confident that they can keep their kids safe online.”
Earlier this month, the University of Florida advised its students to abandon using TikTok, citing growing security concerns that the platform poses.
In an email to the UF students and staff, Vice President and CIO Elias G. Eldayrie said that the university has been monitoring developments, noting growing cybersecurity concerns and security risks.
“There is a strong possibility that TikTok will be added in the future to the Fast Path list of software applications not permitted on university devices and networks,” the letter says. “[The app] gets access to many things on your phone besides what you use their app for.”
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis also warned of using TikTok in the past and recently labeled it as “digital fentanyl” in a Fox News interview.