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New US state law narrows its privacy targets for children online

New US state law narrows its privacy targets for children online

The U.S. state of Florida is next to pass legislation giving people more control over their information, including biometric data.

The Digital Bill of Rights, signed this week, makes it illegal for a social media company to prevent a Florida resident from accessing their personal data held by the firm, confirming that data and deleting it. The law is the result of years of lawmaking attempts.

There are a few instances, particularly in the law’s section about how children are to be protected, that are counterintuitively narrow.

For instance, lawmakers have made it illegal to “sell, rent, release, disclose, disseminate, make available, transfer or otherwise communicate … a child’s personal information” from one social media platform to another social media platform or third-party.

The actual phrase used in that paragraph is online platform, but the law specifically defines online platforms as social media platforms.

Consumers, under the law, cannot sue anyone violating the act. They instead must ask the government to sue on their behalf, and it is not obligated to do so. Texas’ Attorney General’s Office is currently suing Meta over alleged violations of biometric data privacy, though the state with the largest volume of biometrics litigation is Illinois, where individuals can take companies to court.

A civil penalty of up to $50,000 per violation can be sought by the state. That is a relief for businesses. Class actions can result in fines in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Florida law also outlaws using a resident’s personal data against them in a home purchase, looking for work or getting health insurance.

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