Internet Firms Oppose Florida Proposals To Regulate Web

Some Florida lawmakers want to impose state-level regulations on the free-wheeling online world, and are drawing opposition from some of the nation's biggest Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Ebay.

The conflict is over two proposed laws. One would affect who controls a person's email and social media accounts and the secrets they may contain when the owner dies or becomes incapacitated. The other would make the state a combatant against Internet piracy of music and movies.

The bills' proponents say they simply extend current laws to cover new kinds of information and assets that didn't exist when those laws were written.

The laws would be enforced by individuals' court actions.

The "True Origin of Digital Goods Act," SB 604, would require operators of websites that distribute commercial recordings or videos to include their names, addresses and contact information.

Its purpose, sponsor Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, told the Senate Judiciary Committee, is "to protect consumers against websites engaged in illegal distribution of music and movies," because illegal downloads often contain viruses.

Mitch Glazier of the Recording Industry Association of America said it simply updates current law that covers physical products such as discs and makes it include online products. In the committee, Carlos Linares of the RIAA said it will also "give state authorities an opportunity to weigh in on the piracy issue."

The Walt Disney Co., a powerful political force in Florida and major video producer, also backs the bill.

First Amendment supporters say the bill could infringe on the constitutional right to anonymous free speech, even though it's aimed at commercial activity.

"Commercial does not always mean non-political," said Wesley Chapel intellectual property lawyer Dineen Wasylik, an Internet civil liberties advocate.

Big Internet companies including Google and Internet service providers oppose the bill, fearing courts would order them to help enforce the law by taking down or...

Comments are closed.