TALLAHASSEE - A landmark proposal to lift the veil on companies that collect and sell the electronic data of their clients died on the final day of the legislative session Friday, despite its being a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls.
Significantly modeled off a similar measure in California, HB 969, the Florida Privacy Protection Act, would have imposed new disclosure requirements on companies that collect information from anyone who downloads an app or uses a website.
The measure, which had broad bipartisan support in both chambers, would have required Florida businesses to tell consumers what data they’ve collected about them and how they’re going to use it. But it was vigorously opposed by the largest businesses in Florida, which warned the bill would cost them millions to comply. There were 343 lobbyists hired to lobby the bill, most of whom were attempting to kill it.
The goal of the bill was intended to crack down on “our surveillance economy,” said Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island, the Senate sponsor. She said technology companies can track customers long after they’ve left a website without customers knowing. She suggested that “if a business doesn’t want to have compliance costs, they don’t need to have our private information.”
Other states and the European Union have enacted similar data privacy regulations to protect personal information and give consumers more control over how their information is used.
In November, California voters went further in strengthening their privacy laws by passing Proposition 24. It added new requirements for businesses to protect personal information, including by “reasonably” minimizing data collection, limiting data retention, and protecting data security. A similar privacy law was passed in Illinois. And in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protects personal data and restricts the use of it by business entities and internet companies.
Although Florida’s proposal was more modest, businesses opposed it — especially a House provision that would have allowed consumers to sue companies that collect, sell or share their personal information after consumers have not given them permission.
“Should a private citizen be able to say to a big corporation, ‘Hey, I asked you not to collect my data and you did it anyway.’ Or, ‘I asked you not to collect it and not only did you collect it, you sold it without my permission,’ " said Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican, when asked about the importance of allowing civil lawsuits to enforce the bill.
“A private citizen should be able to do that in my opinion,’' he said.
But by the final day on Friday, the House and Senate could not work out their differences over the lawsuit issue, and the measure died when they adjourned.
Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @MaryEllenKlas
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