As the Florida Legislature debates comprehensive state privacy legislation, the main point of contention revolves around the private right of action (PRA). During the 2021 legislative session, a clear divide emerged between the Florida House, which supported consumer redress, and the Florida Senate, which aimed to avoid it.
In the 2022 session, both chambers reintroduced their privacy bills, but it is House Bill 9 with its inclusion of the PRA that has gained traction thus far. State Representative Fiona McFarland, a Republican, has championed HB 9 through two committee assignments. Most recently, the bill received a favorable recommendation, with amendments, from the House Judiciary Committee, passing with a 13-4 vote.
U.S. Representative Robert Scott, a Democrat from Virginia, has called for an investigation following reports of a Florida school district sharing student data with law enforcement, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. The investigation revealed that student grades, attendance, and disciplinary information were being shared with the Pasco Sheriff's Office. Representative Scott expressed concerns that this practice violates federal student privacy laws and increases the likelihood of excessive law enforcement interactions and stigmatization, particularly for Black and Latino students.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) has called on the Pasco County Sheriff's Office in Florida to cease a program that allegedly utilizes student data to create profiles of potential future criminals. In their analysis, FPF contends that this program violates the law enforcement agency's contract with the school board as well as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Despite these concerns, the Sheriff's Office maintains its support for the program, emphasizing its commitment to ensuring student safety.
According to EdScoop, students at Florida State University (FSU) have raised concerns regarding the use of exam software that they believe infringes upon their privacy rights. While the university has transitioned to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty members have the option to utilize Honorlock, a software that monitors student activity during exams. Honorlock records web activity, identifies the use of mobile devices, and accesses webcams and microphones to detect potential cheating. Over 5,000 students have signed an online petition, contending that this technology represents a "blatant violation of our privacy as students."
According to NBC News, a man from Gainesville, Florida, named Zachary McCoy claims that his use of the exercise-tracking app RunKeeper resulted in him being wrongly identified as a suspect in a burglary case. The app placed him near the location of the crime, even though he had never been to the victim's house. This occurred as a result of a "geofence warrant," which utilized Google location data for police surveillance purposes. McCoy's attorney, Caleb Kenyon, argued that such warrants, which allow access to information related to an individual's Google account, raise concerns regarding privacy and constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. Although the warrant has been withdrawn, Kenyon believes that the broader battle to protect privacy rights remains unresolved.