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Florida unveils bill targeting Big Tech data mining and user privacy

The new legislation announced Monday is an attempt to combat Big Tech and offer Floridians more secure data privacy. 

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and republican lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives announced new legislation Monday to combat Big Tech and offer Floridians more secure data privacy.

“Today we look to change what’s acceptable in the sunshine state by shining a light on these practices and by empowering consumers to make decisions about if, how, and when their personal information is used,” DeSantis said in a press conference.

“Status quo has all been a one-way street with Big Tech, where they have all the power, they dictate all the rules, they take whatever data they want, when they want it, and consumers get virtually nothing except the ‘privilege’ of using their own devices that they’ve already paid for. But we can’t let it go on any longer,” he added.

The bill, which has support in both the state House and Senate, provides Floridians with “four main rights” to privacy, including the right to know what data companies obtain from users, the right to order the Big Tech giants to delete that information, the right to prohibit the companies from selling any personal information without permission and the right to sue if a data breach occurs, The Federalist reports.

“We’re going to make sure consumers are in the driver’s seat to make that decision, not Silicon Valley or other global companies which are far more focused on their profits than on your privacy,” DeSantis urged.

If the bill passes, which is likely, it would force the Big Tech conglomerate to create an “opt-out” mechanism for users’ private personal information, from general user data on certain apps to the most private information like fingerprints, voice recordings and retinal scans.

“Your data is tracked and too often is sold…this threat isn’t limited just to the data that you have on the internet but it ranges to even your most fundamental part of who you are, your DNA, but that doesn’t matter to tech companies who sell those to private vendors and often, as is covered in the ‘60 Minutes,’ foreign entities,” Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls explained.

“This bill seeks to bring these things into the daylight. It seeks to change the dynamic that exists between our personal privacy and the powers of Big Tech and big technology,” he added.

This legislation would provide the Florida attorney general and any individual in the state the option to bring forth legal action.

“This bill offers a common-sense solution to something that every Floridian is dealing with every time that they open their phone, or engage int he digital space, and our message here to Floridians today is this: the days where you have no control will soon be over,” Sprowls continued.

Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, the bill’s sponsor, said that the bill would “ensure the private data of Floridians stays private.”

Gov. DeSantis has long been an avid supporter of legislation to combat Big Tech censorship, blacklisting and election interference.

“Big Tech has long since abdicated the protection of consumers for the pursuit of profit,” he said in a press conference in early February. “We can’t allow Floridians’ privacy to be violated, their voices and even their livelihoods diminished, and their elections interfered with.”

Florida is the first of many states expected to take legislative action against Big Tech in the coming weeks and months.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. DG

    February 16, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Good news for Floridians. Now we need other governors to do the same.

  2. Tom

    February 16, 2021 at 9:20 pm

    I agree. Tell your state reps and governors to propose their own Florida HB 969.

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‘Every Word Of This Is False’: Ted Cruz Factchecks Ilhan Omar’s Attack On Coach Kennedy Prayer Case

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Rep. Ilhan Omar

On Monday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) factchecked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after she made multiple false claims about the Supreme Court ruling in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, in which the Court ruled 6-3 that a public high school football coach in Washington state had his First Amendment rights violated when he was punished by his school district for praying on the field after games where students could see.

As previously reported, “In 2008, high school football coach Joseph Kennedy began a tradition of praying at midfield after each game. Over time, his players and even members of the opposing team began to join him. In September 2015, a school administrator addressed the matter with Kennedy after an opposing team complained and the coach briefly stopped his prayers.”

“On October 14, 2015, Kennedy told the school district that he was planning on resuming his prayer tradition at the next game. The school district told the coach that his prayers violated the district’s policy, but Kennedy continued to pray at the next two games. The school district subsequently placed him on administrative leave, banned him from participating in the football program, and refused to renew his contract for the following season. Kennedy took the issue to federal district court, arguing that the school district had violated his First Amendment rights,” the report added.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Kennedy, Omar tweeted, “The Supreme Court just ruled that public school teachers can pressure students to join in prayer at public school events but can also retaliate against those that don’t join in. Religious freedom is dead in America.”

“Every word of this is false,” Cruz responded.

Omar’s claim that the Supreme Court’s decision allowed to teachers to “pressure students to join prayer” is false. The Court’s ruling just protected Coach Kennedy’s religious freedom to pray publicly.

Omar was also incorrect in claiming that there would be retaliation against students who did not join Kennedy in prayer – the coach’s tradition of praying after games began with him praying alone at midfield after football games. Kennedy’s school district even noted that Kennedy had “not actively encouraged, or required, participation.”

Additionally, in contrast to Omar’s claim that “religious freedom is dead in America,” the Supreme Court ruling actually strengthened protections of religious freedom.

Writing for the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch explained, “Respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head.”

“Here, a government entity sought to punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance doubly protected by the Free Exercise and Free Speech Clauses of the First Amendment,” Gorsuch added. “And the only meaningful justification the government offered for its reprisal rested on a mistaken view that it had a duty to ferret out and suppress religious observances even as it allows comparable secular speech. The Constitution neither mandates nor tolerates that kind of discrimination. Mr. Kennedy is entitled to summary judgment on his First Amendment claims.”

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