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Rick Scott signs two trade secret bills into law

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Florida Governor Rick Scott, on Wednesday, signed two bills into law that deal with trade secrets. Both bills were sponsored by Naples Republican Senator Garrett Richter.

SB 180  expands the definition of “trade secret” to expressly include financial information under the definition. And SB 182, a companion bill,  protects financial information deemed to be a trade secret from public disclosure, thus creating an exemption to public records laws.

SB 182 expands exemptions to public meetings requirements, as well, when “trade secrets” are discussed.

SB 182 also defines certain financial information submitted to cities and counties confidential and exempt from public disclosure, which would require more redacting of those documents in the case of a public records request.

SB 182 will protect the trade secrets of businesses, even as one Senate committee anticipated the need for “state agencies to interpret” what constituted a trade secret… a scenario which, given the inherent subjectivity of language, could lead to litigation down the road relative to this law.

Governmental agencies will be compelled to balance this trade secret exemption against the general policy that “all state, county, and municipal records shall be open for personal inspection by any person.” As well, the definition of what a trade secret is can differ even among companies in the same sector, adding another layer of interpretative challenge.

A.G. Gancarski has written a weekly column for Jacksonville’s Folio Weekly since 2003. His writings on politics, culture, and sport have appeared in the Washington Times, the Daily Caller, and the American Conservative. His radio and TV appearances include frequent contributions to WJCT-FM (Jacksonville’s Public Radio station); additionally, he has been a guest on Huff Post Live and the Savage Nation radio show. Gancarski can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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