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Small businesses have concerns despite DeSantis signing 'Digital Bill of Rights' Tuesday

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Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 18:49:05-04

Florida’s got new data privacy protections to shield users from the collection of their online information— but it may come at a cost to small businesses.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Digital Bill of Rights” in The Villages Tuesday morning.

It requires online platforms to offer their users better control of collected data, whether that’s through access to it or the power to delete it. Online games and products targeting kids are also prohibited from taking, sharing, or selling user info.

“This empowers Floridians,” said DeSantis. “You’re not going to just be at the mercy of big brother, kind of looking over everything that you do and collecting all the information about you.”

The policy received wide-bipartisan support during this year’s legislative session. After several amendments, only two no-votes were recorded as the bill worked its way through the chambers.

But there is some concern over one of its most notable provisions, the requirement that users can choose to opt out of data collection by social media and search engines like Facebook or Google.

That may sound great— but nonprofits, local governments, and many small businesses use that data to create targeted ads… for cheap.

Underwater photographer Kimber Greenwood, from Gainesville, worries limiting data collection could make her ads more expensive and less effective.

“People tell me all the time, ‘Oh, this is exactly what I wanted, but I didn't know that it existed until I found you,’ she said. “So, now, if they can't find me, I really do worry about the effect that it's going to have on my industry.”

Greenwood said she currently spends about $500 a month using Google and Facebook data to create targeted ads for those interested in things like scuba diving and photography. For her, it's a much more cost-effective and specific ad campaign than paying thousands to run generic advertisements on television or radio.

“I just want to know, are you interested in what I have to offer?” said Greenwood. “And would you find my ads more interesting than, say, for a pair of dentures or home improvement products?”

The impact she feels will likely depend on how companies choose to implement the new law and if many users choose to opt out of data collection. With DeSantis' signature, provisions take effect July 1st of this year.