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DeSantis Proposes 'Digital Bill of Rights'

Legislation would provide numerous online data protections and combat censorship of Floridians

DeSantis Proposes 'Digital Bill of Rights'

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced a proposal for a Digital Bill of Rights that would seek to protect online privacy, protect minors, and eliminate censorship.

Under the proposal, the state would ban the use of TikTok and other social media platforms with ties to China from all state government devices, at colleges, universities, and public schools, and would prohibit state and local employees from working with Big Tech companies to censor speech.

“Our Digital Bill of Rights will ensure Floridians are protected from the overreach and surveillance we have seen from Big Tech companies,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Today’s proposal builds on our efforts to stop Big Tech censorship and combat the malign influence of China through the removal of nefarious platforms like TikTok from any state supported activity.”

According to local news outlet WFLA, Florida’s Digital Bill of Rights would offer specific protections to users, including (but not limited to):

  • Protect private in-person conversations, requiring consent for companies to observe

  • Protect the right of individuals to participate in platforms without “unfair censorship”

  • Protect the right to know how search engines manipulate search results

  • Protect the right to control personal data on the “largest and most common platforms” and require express authorization to monetize it

  • Protect children from online harms

The proposal will be up for consideration by the Florida state legislature, which begins its next session in March, and would not be the first effort attempting to limit the power technology companies wield over users.

In 2021, DeSantis signed into law Senate Bill 7072, which imposes fines of $250,000 per day on social media companies that de-platform political candidates running for statewide office, and $25,000 per day for de-platforming candidates running for local office.

Florida’s Digital Bill of Rights would expand protections to private citizens who reside in the state, and would join a suite of other proposals seeking to limit the reach of apps with connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

“Big Tech has gone unchecked for too long and has been reckless with our data, causing major concerns about privacy and potentially jeopardizing sensitive state information,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said in the news release. “I’m proud to stand with Governor DeSantis today to give Silicon Valley a reboot and announce an audacious plan to protect Floridians and keep our children safe online.”

So far, multiple states have advanced measures to ban TikTok from government devices.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, recently proposed banning TikTok across the country after warnings from officials raised concerns over the possibility China could exploit data gleaned from Americans.

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