Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Florida leads iAWFUL list with bill to end privacy rights after death

in Top Headlines by

Try as we might, there is no way to hide from two guarantees in life, death and taxes.

In the digital age, Internet advocates say Florida lawmakers are taking on death, to make sure privacy rights die with you.

NetChoice – a trade association of online businesses and consumers – today announced its latest Internet Advocates Watchlist of Ugly Laws (iAWFUL) list.

iAWFUL features legislation from across the nation that seeks to limit online competition, innovation, and customer choice.

This year, Florida tops the iAWFUL list by chipping away at privacy rights with FL HB313/SB102, currently in the Senate Rules Committee.

Known as the “Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act,” the measure, filed in the Senate by Port Orange Republican Dorothy Hukill, offers what NetChoice calls “a unique ability” to take away a person’s personal privacy after they die.

Supported by estate attorneys, the act allows access and control of digital assets to the designated representative of the estate. Authorized individuals can then obtain necessary info so they can handle the deceased’s final affairs. It seeks to determine what happens to online accounts, messages, and photos after you die.

If a person does not provide permission beforehand, an estate manager gets access to open up online accounts — approved or not.

That is not what Americans want, according to a recent NetChoice poll.

More than 70 percent of Americans say that private online communications and photos should remain private after they die – unless there is prior consent for access by others, such as family and relatives.

Another 70 percent of respondents say any dispute should fall on the side of privacy, particularly when there is no documented preference about how to handle private communications and photos.

Just in time for Tax Day 2015 is the second on the iAWFUL list: U.S. S698, called the ‘‘Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015,’’ which seeks to once again establish an Internet sales tax.

Despite failing every year, the federal government once again is trying to force small businesses to collect sales taxes in more than 10,000 local jurisdictions in 46 states.  NetChoice says this move will drown thousands of small businesses – neighbors just trying to make a living — in red tape.

Who will benefit from an Internet sales tax? NetChoice says it will be big box stores and certified sales tax software providers, where the passage of the MFA could net them up to $1.5 billion a year.

This effort is also against the clear wishes of the American public, according to a recent MFA Assessment from the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen group known as the “Voice of America’s Taxpayers.”

The full April iAWFUL list is available online at NetChoice.org.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

Latest from Top Headlines

Go to Top