Gov. DeSantis slams big tech, proposes data privacy bill

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed a new law Monday to protect data privacy from Floridians from “Big Tech”.

“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 from the Cabinet Meeting Room.

The governor said ‘Big Tech’ has created a surveillance economy and privacy is an illusion with personal information being sold to the highest bidder.

“So the heads they win, tails Floridians lose, relationship with big tech needs to end,” DeSantis said.

“The 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 and consumers get virtually nothing except the quote privilege of using their devices that they already pay for.”

One longtime, local IT expert described big tech in two sentences.

“They program us. For them, it’s like printing money,” said Mit Patel, a USF engineering graduate with more than two decades in the industry.

Patel says this a bi-partisan issue.

“It’s beyond politics,” he told 8 On Your Side. “It’s about not just all Americans, it’s about the world.”

He’s hoping people pay close attention to this bill.

“So, what do these big tech companies do? Obviously, it’s going to marketers. When you log into a device, and you search something and you go to somewhere else, and all of a sudden you see an ad, and all of a sudden, you see an ad for something you searched for, that’s what that is,” Patel told 8 On Your Side.

“I think this should be an issue that should get bipartisan support because even on a Democratic side or Republican side, it’s truly an American thing, it can only help consumers, the American public,” Patel added,

Patel says it’s simple – big tech has control over us because we agree to hand over our data without even knowing it since it’s buried in the terms and conditions and calls it the biggest money-maker ever.

“Seriously, they’re literally printing money. They take the data and can actually predict behavior and then lead us to a certain behavior, also programming into being what they want us to be,” Patel said.

The press conference comes following the announcement State Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, who has helped lead Florida’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and other disasters, announced he will step down from his role.

Moskowitz made headlines last month for defending Florida’s vaccine rollout after the White House said half of the state’s allotted vaccine supply was being unused.

“I will note, cause we’re data first, facts first here, that they’ve only distributed about 50% of the vaccines that they have been given in Florida. So clearly they have a good deal of the vaccine, that supply will need to continue to increase as they are able to effectively reach people across the state,” said White House Press Secretary Jenn Psaki.

“At the end of the day, this allocation game, they know it’s a supply issue. Every state knows it’s a supply issue. You know it’s a supply issue,” Moskowitz said. “We could turn on every pharmacy in the state if we had the doses.”

During Gov. DeSantis’ press conference DeSantis said Moskowitz has done a fantastic job and Florida has the best emergency response in the country.

The governor says Deputy Director/SERT Chief Kevin Guthrie “has done a great job and is going to take Jared’s spot when he’s ready to move on.”+

The bill will be introduced when the Florida state legislature convenes on March 2, 2021.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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