DeSantis announces digital bill of rights vs. Big Tech

The bill will ban TikTok on government devices, protect users' personal data and prevent partisan censorship.

The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, announced the passage of a bill to guarantee and defend the digital rights of citizens. The rule will force Big Tech to allow users to have private conversations without surveillance by these companies, to be able to control their personal data, to avoid unfair censorship and to be informed about search engine manipulations. In addition, it will require special protection to prevent harm to children. The text also contemplates the prohibition of TikTok on government devices, as well as the access to this app or others linked to China through the internet services of universities, public schools or any state office.

During a press conference, DeSantis explained:

We want free speech. We want to protect your right as a Floridian to have private, in-person conversations without Big Tech surveilling you. If you want to consent to let them have this information so they can fashion advertising based off of it, it’s your right to consent to do so but it should only be if you consent. We are also going to protect the right to participate in online platforms without unfair censorship.

DeSantis joins the ban on TikTok

In addition, the rule prohibits any government or local government employee from coordinating with any Big Tech to monitor or censor protected speech. A measure that seeks to avoid collusion between governments and technology executives when it comes to censoring certain content and people. The aim is to avoid a repetition of the events recently reported in the Twitter Files ,and acknowledged by CEOs such as Mark Zuckerberg (Meta), of silencing information such as those coming from Hunter Biden's laptop or critical positions on measures against covid or vaccines.

No to Big Tech's business with personal data

Another key battleground for the new standard will be the protection of users' personal data by Big Tech:

We want the right to protect all of your personal on the largest and most common platforms. They take that data and make a fortune. They should get authorization from you before they are able to monetize that or use it in any way. We’re also going to prohibit the unauthorized data collection and retention of real-time information about a user through cell phones such as GPS location, biometric data and other personally identified information.

Clarity in search engine criteria

Florida will require Google and other search engines to clarify whether they prioritize some search results over others for political or ideological reasons or economic considerations. This is a complaint that Republican politicians have been denouncing for quite some time, and which they will investigate in the House of Representatives thanks to their majority. During the midterm election campaign, the Media Research Center accused Google of hiding Republican candidates' pages while favoring those of Democrats.

Beyond the ideological relevance, DeSantis stressed that knowing what criteria a search engine follows to display results is important information for entrepreneurs and people running a business to decide how to position themselves in one or the other. "We want to protect the right to know how these internet search engines are manipulating search results, and to have transparency in terms of what they’re doing so you can evaluate if that’s a search engine that you want to use or maybe you want to take your business elsewhere," he analyzed.

DeSantis signs extension of immigrant transportation program

On the other hand, the governor of the Sunshine State signed the extension of the program whereby immigrants arriving in Florida are being transferred to sanctuary cities. "Florida is using every tool available to protect our citizens from Biden's open borders policies," DeSantis noted.