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New Year, New Florida Privacy Law?

Kelly Ruane Melchiondo
Blog ImageFlorida appears to be gearing up for another partisan battle on data privacy. On Friday, January 7, 2022, Florida Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Dist. 5), introduced Florida Senate Bill 1864, titled the “Florida Privacy Protection Act” (“FPPA”). This is the 2022 version of last year’s proposed “Florida Privacy Protection Act” that Senator Bradley also authored (Senate Bill 1734). The 2021 version, which ran in parallel with Florida House Bill 969, would have required companies that collect information from Florida consumers to permit consumers to opt out of data collection, or to delete or correct consumers’ information upon request. Florida HB 969 also would have created a private right of action for consumers to sue companies. Neither the Senate nor House bill survived, primarily because the dire effect of the private right of action on Florida businesses struck fear across the political spectrum. 

Senator Bradley’s current FPPA bill does not contain a private right of action, but offers Florida consumers significantly more protection than current Florida data protection laws. The 2022 FPPA offers Florida consumers the right to opt out of the sale of personal information, and the use of private data for targeted advertising or profiling. Any consumer who opts out would also have the right to be “left alone” for a year, meaning that a company could not ask any consumer who opted out of the sale or targeted advertising to reauthorize the use of the consumer’s data for one year. 

Like its predecessor, the 2022 FPPA also affords consumers the right to ask companies to delete or correct their information. To comply, companies must have sufficient internal controls to locate the consumer’s data, to be able to delete or correct it, and to confirm the deletion or correction. 

The 2022 FPPA differs from last year’s model in that it calls for the creation of the Consumer Data Privacy Unit within the Florida Attorney General’s Office. That Unit would be responsible for enforcing the FPPA, and would report directly to the Florida Attorney General.

As in last year’s Florida legislative session, companion or competing privacy legislation will likely come out of the Florida House of Representatives shortly. Florida Representative Fiona McFarland (R-Dist. 72), who authored House Bill 969 last year, is expected to introduce a similar House bill this year. 

Florida businesses should pay attention. The DeSantis administration has already attempted to fight “Big Tech” with legislation aimed at social media. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida struck that legislation down in July. The DeSantis administration may view this data privacy legislation as a means to achieve whatever control over “Big Tech” that it may not be able to achieve with existing legislation. 
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