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What Doomed Florida’s Internet Privacy Bill? Featured

Florida’s legislative session has come and gone without the passage of a sweeping new consumer data protection bill.

florida 1801533 1280As the Miami Herald reports, House Speaker Chris Sprowls prioritized the Florida Privacy Protection Act, also known as HB 969, and the bill had enjoyed wide bipartisan backing in both the state House and Senate. The measure, largely modeled after the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, would have forced Florida businesses to reveal the data they collect from their apps and websites.

Specifically, according to marketing publication The Drum, any company doing business in Florida with at least $50 million in annual revenue would have been subject to HB 969. Also covered would be any company that collects, sells or shares data on at least 50,000 customers a year, or that makes at least half of its revenue selling consumer data.

Under the bill, consumers would gain the right to request their data be deleted and choose whether they want their data to be gathered or resold. Businesses that sold data from consumers who opted out would have been potentially liable for civil damages.

This right for consumers to sue—a so-called private right of action—became a particular point of opposition for business lobbyists, as the Herald reports. Sprowls, a Republican, contended that a private citizen should be able to sue if an organization collects and resells their data after being denied permission. Of 334 lobbyists hired over the bill, most were reportedly trying to drown it.

In March, Virginia recently followed California as the second state to enact a consumer privacy law, though Virginia’s version doesn’t include a private right of action. Instead, the state attorney general’s office is in charge of enforcing the law.

Al Saikali, chair of the privacy and data security practice at law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, opposed the Florida House bill, as The Wall Street Journal reports. Saikali said that HB 969 would have gone further than California’s law, allowing businesses to be sued for a wider range of infringements. He said the Senate version would have more closely followed the California and Virginia laws.

“The Florida privacy legislation appears to be dead, and the best way to explain it is with the southern adage that ‘pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered,’” Saikali wrote in a separate blog post. “With a strong privacy bill in hand that gave privacy advocates 95% of everything they wanted and approved by the Senate, the House decided it wanted more. It really wanted its private right of action.”

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