Feb 16, 2023

Gov. Ron DeSantis Outlines ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ During West Palm Beach Visit Transcript

Gov. Ron DeSantis Outlines 'Digital Bill of Rights' During West Palm Beach Visit Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDigital Bill of RightsGov. Ron DeSantis Outlines ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ During West Palm Beach Visit Transcript

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lays out a new “Digital Bill of Rights” for residents of the state during a news conference at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Govenor DeSantis (00:00):

It’s great to be here at Palm Beach Atlantic. I want to thank everybody for coming. We’ve got another, as you can see, a pretty good announcement today, and we’re looking forward to doing that and then bringing that across the finish line in the next couple months. I am joined today by Florida’s Attorney General, Ashley Moody, who’s here. The Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Mark Glass is with us here. CEO of all the fake news that’s fit to print, Babylon Bee, Seth Dillon. Shannon Chapman is a mom of two from here in Palm Beach County. And then James Jenkins, who is living here in Palm Beach County. So they’re going to tell their stories about tech.

Before we get on to talk about tech, I am pleased to be able to announce today that our tourism numbers for 2022 have come in. We have close to 138 million visitors. That’s an all-time record for the state of Florida. So, people are coming. And don’t forget, that’s with you having these restrictions that Biden has imposed about people coming from foreign countries to visit. They make you do a vax to be able to come still on an airplane, after all this time. This doesn’t stop you from getting a darn… It’s just ridiculous. But they’re doing it, and it absolutely deters people to have to put up with that. I get invited to go, “Hey, visit our country, do this, do this. We love Florida.” And I’m like, “All right, well is there going to be a deal we can do? But if it’s not, are you going to make us go through restrictions and stuff?”

I don’t want to be taking tests. I don’t want to be doing this vax stuff. I want to just be able to live and make decisions. That’s how people think when they want to come travel. And so for us to have this record, even with some of those things still in place, I think is a testament that Florida is really the place people want to be. And if you just want to go and get a travel visa to come from some of these countries, the amount of time it takes to be able to get it… Meanwhile, they let millions of people come across the southern border with no visa or anything. And how does this make any sense?

So, we’re proud of what we’ve been able to do to make Florida a place people want to not only live, but also visit in record numbers. And that’s had a huge impact on so many jobs. Part of the reason why our own employment rate is 2.5%, part of the reason why we have more people employed today than prior to COVID, you look at a lot of these lockdown states, California, they haven’t even gotten tourism back to where it was pre-COVID. They’re still a few years away from even getting that. We’re better than we were in 2019. And same with employment. We never in the history of Florida had more people employed here than in New York State. And now we do, and we’re continuing to go up.

A couple years ago, we were the first state to take the lead to protect Floridians against big tech censorship. And we passed legislation, which did a couple of things, and we knew going into this, that this was a issue of first impression. We knew there would be litigation, we knew it would eventually end up to have to be decided by the US Supreme Court, but we provided some provisions of law that said, “These tech platforms, the social media companies, they are not, by their own admission, publishers,” which a publisher, if you started a website, you could publish whatever you want. And if I wanted to put my views, you’re under no obligation to publish my perspective or anybody’s perspective. You can make those decisions.

But they are not publishers, because if they were publishers, they wouldn’t get section 230 liability from lawsuits. And so they hide under the section 230 from lawsuits, saying they’re not publishers, saying they’re open forums. And yet, as we know, we knew in 2021 this was the case. But now with what’s come out, we know without a shadow of a doubt they are not functioning truly as open platforms. They do have terms and conditions, they have certain rules, but those rules are applied with a thumb on the scale against the people they disagree with politically.

So you’ve seen people who have conservative views marginalized entirely, banned, deplatformed, shadow ban, all these different things have happened. And so what we try to do is just say, “Look, in the state of Florida, we have consumer protection, unfair trade practice laws. If you’re advertising as being an open platform, you’re taking that liability that says you’re not a publisher. You’re monetizing by taking people’s data who join your services. And then if you turn around and you deplatform someone based on viewpoint, you’re committing a fraud on the consumer.”

And so we wanted the Floridians who have been affected to be able to bring consumer fraud actions against big tech. We also empower the Attorney General of Florida to be able to police big tech if they were doing this. And then we also had protections for political candidates so they couldn’t deplatform a candidate, because honestly, you lead up to the election, I think that that’s something that that’s a live possibility. That’s in the courts, district court, appeals court. It’s pending before the US Supreme Court. Texas did a similar law. Theirs has fared better in the court. So there is a disagreement amongst the courts now in our country. The Supreme Court has asked the Solicitor General the US to provide views about whether they should take the case. I think they’re going to take it, but it’s probably not going to be decided until next year.

So that’s an important principle to say if you’re an open platform, you can set whatever rules you want, but if you’re setting rules and then not enforcing them equally based on viewpoint, you are committing a fraud on the public, and there should be a way for people to hold you accountable. And so I think we’ll end up getting a favorable result out of that. But we’ve seen throughout the course of since we did that bill, you’ve seen huge amounts of evidence about what they’re doing to censor truthful information.

We did a round table for COVID. Man, it was probably two years ago now. And I had some of the best experts in the world, like Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford. We had Martin Kulldorff from Harvard, Sunetra Gupta from Oxford. And they were talking about at that time the issues that were pertinent. And one of the things they all agreed, this is 2021, kids should not be wearing masks in school. And that’s obviously… It was right then. That was our policy in Florida, and we did an executive order to make sure that that parents could liberate their kids from masks. We fought that, we won that.

Now you’re seeing all these studies acknowledge that there was never any solid evidence that this was something that was working, even on adults, much less kids, who aren’t even going to wear it right. And so that’s what has come out. I think we knew that at the time, but there was definitely a narrative being pushed by some of the entrenched medical establishments, corporate press, all that stuff. They’re just laying out the facts on this. And Google and YouTube pulled the video down because they were saying that kids should go to school mask free.

This is a core debate. Just like when we had said the schools needed to be open, most of these “experts” opposed us in Florida on that. But that’s a debate that needed to have. We were right on that debate about the schools being open, and we were right about the debate on letting kids go mask free. But why would you censor that information? You should want to be debating these issues. These are very significant issues that affect a lot of people’s, not only quality of life, but their development as young people. And yet they did that.

And then they would have, we now know Twitter, they had these behind the scenes blacklists, where they would go after people who were dissenting from the Fauci narrative. And that had huge ramifications too, because I think if we’d have had a fuller debate, maybe some of the things that went really wrong over the last couple of years, maybe they would be in a better spot on some of this stuff. So this has been really, really significant to see what they’re trying to do. So that’s there.

You also have the role of China in tech, with things like TikTok. And this is something there, if you look at the TikTok that they use in China, it’s much different than what they’re trying to do in the United States. With China, it’s all very wholesome, patriotic. In the United States, they’re trying to inject as much garbage into this as possible. They’re getting the data from people, creates a huge security risk through our country. And so this is something that a lot of people have said, “Wait a minute, it is an issue.”

So we were able to… Last summer I did an executive order covering not just TikTok, but a bunch of stuff for the state government. And so we don’t have state government using TikTok anymore. We didn’t ever really had a lot. There was a couple here or there like a year or so ago. So that’s there. Today, our Department of Management Services is clarifying that that executive order not only applies to TikTok, it applies to all of the digital platforms based with the CCP. And so it’s not just TikTok, there’s these other Chinese platforms that we will now have nothing in the state government.

And again, I don’t know how much is being used or not used on those others. I don’t think it’s a lot, but it’s important to clarify that so people know where we stand. But I think this is a huge issue. And it’s one thing to say you’re not going to have the state government do it, but we’re such a small footprint. This is only a little like throwing a pebble in a lake, so you’ve got to do more. So we are going to be doing more with our proposals here today.

Another issue that you see with big tech is your right to privacy. You go buy a phone, you turn it on, you put it in your car, you don’t even make a call, don’t even open the web browser, just sit it next to you. You drive around, run errands, do all that stuff. It is collecting all the data about what you’re doing. They know when you’re driving, they know when you get out of the car, all these different things. And it’s nuts to think the amount of information they can compile on you. Maybe I’m old-fashioned. I think if I go buy a service or a product, I want it for that. I’m not signing up for them to be able to do whatever they want with your habits. And I don’t think that that should be the standard. But they have huge, huge ability to do a lot.

And you’ll have people… I’ll have people tell me they’re having a phone conversation and they mention red roses, and then the next thing they know they’re getting an ad sent to them for red roses. I was like, how does that… So there’s all this stuff that we’re very concerned about.

The other thing that is, I think a really big issue is the search engines, particularly like Google, and what they’re doing to manipulate those results to be able to drive an agenda and to drive a narrative. Clearly, if you look at Search today versus 10 or 15 years ago, it’s radically different in terms of the results you were getting. I think 10, 15 years ago, it was actually pretty good. Now I think it’s really, really been polluted. So, what’s going on behind the scenes? What do we need to know or not know? And we want to look at that too.

So today, we’re going to be proposing, and we’re working with the legislature to enact a Digital Bill of Rights, which will protect Floridians from big tech harms and big tech overreaches, also taking even stronger action to address threats posed by CCP-related entities, like TikTok, but not only TikTok, but doing it much broader than just state government devices.

And so what is the Digital Bill of Rights? Well, we want to protect your right as a Floridian to have private in-person conversations without big tech surveilling you. If you want to consent to let them have this information so they can fashion advertising based off of it, it’s your right to consent to do so, but it should only be if you consent and they don’t have a right to have that information, as a matter of first principle.

We also are going to protect the right to participate in online platforms without unfair censorship. We want free speech. We want more speech, not less speech. We want to protect the right to know how these internet search engines are manipulating search results, transparency in terms of what we’re doing so that you can evaluate whether that’s a search engine that you want to use or maybe you want to take your business elsewhere.

We want to protect your right to control all your personal data on the largest and most common platforms. They take that personal data and they make a fortune off your personal data. So you’re talking about Google, Facebook, just a handful of these companies, they should really get express authorization from you before they’re able to monetize that or use it in any way. And then finally, Digital Bill of Rights aims to protect children from various online harms. And as we see, that’s a huge issue of what we’re seeing.

So, the freedom from surveillance, what do we mean by that? Well, we will not allow unauthorized surveillance of private conversations through cell phones. And that applies… The government is not permitted to do that. Now, in theory, what they actually do with this government, but they would need a search. They would need to get a wiretap, and go to a court to be able to listen.

Now, these private companies, you use their product, they could just potentially do it. So we’re going to put a roadblock into that and say they can’t do that without your express authorization. We’re also going to prohibit the unauthorized data collection and retention of realtime information about a user through cell phones, such as GPS location, biometric data, and other personally identified information. And then as I mentioned with the TikTok and other social media platforms,

Govenor DeSantis (15:00):

… Controlled not just by the CCP, but other countries are concerned. They’re not… These other countries like Communist Cuba, they’re not in the League of China in terms of where they’re at with this, but it would apply to all those hostile regimes. But what we want to do is no government devices, which we have through executive order at the state level. This would also apply to local government devices because we recognize that that will be a security risk. But we’re also going to say, you’re not going to be able to access things like TikTok using networks in any government building, including schools and universities.

We want to make sure that you are protected from unfair censorship. So what do we mean? Now we have our anti censorship bill at the Supreme Court now where we address some of that, and we’re just going to have to wait for that decision. It’s likely not going to come until probably sometime in 2024. But what can we do in addition to that while that’s there? Well, one of the things that we are going to do is we are going to prohibit all state and local government employees from sending, either in official capacity or using state resources, request to social media platforms to deplatform or censor any Floridians accounts.

And what you’ve seen in the last few years, you have these busy bodies in government that are going to Facebook, they’re going to these tech companies and they’re trying to get people censored or they’re trying to get them deplatformed. That is not an appropriate use of government power to be trying to enlist these companies in your censorship, and it’s a violation of the First Amendment because you would not be able to do that directly as a government agent if you’re going indirectly and utilizing a private company. You’re trying to do an end run around the constitution, and that’s never been recognized as being acceptable because then otherwise government could just subcontract out all the violations of the First Amendment.

So you’re not going to be able to do that, and we are not going to allow either formally or informally any agreements between state or local government agencies and social media platforms for the purpose of content moderation. And we’ve seen results of what’s been going on with Twitter and these Twitter files where you will have the FBI working with Twitter to censor just normal information. Dr. Fauci working with Facebook and some of these others to censor perfectly legitimate information. Again, that’s a collusion between government and the private sector to deprive you of your rights.

For search engine transparency, we are going to require for those doing business in Florida, these major internet search engines need to publish the criteria they use to determine which search results to display and in what order, including whether and under what circumstances politics, partisanship, or ideology is taken into account. I mean, you think about these elections. If you had a party for a political candidate and you spent money and did… You’d have to report that as like a contribution. And yet Google can rig the search engines for their candidates and somehow that that’s fine and that’s not considered interfering in the election.

We also, in terms of the right to data privacy, are going to protect consumers’ rights and establish their right to access, delete, or correct or opt out of the sale or sharing of their personal information, particularly for these really, really big companies, and I think that that’s something that’s very, very important.

In terms of protecting minors and children from online harms, we’re going to prevent businesses from knowingly selling or sharing a minor consumer’s personal information without affirmative consent of the parent or guardian. We’re going to allow a minor consumer’s parent or guardian to access, delete, or correct the minor’s personal information. And we’re going to prohibit the unauthorized collection, use or sharing of student PII obtained from online programs at school. So this is helping parents, and this is of course part of a larger effort that we’ve done to support parents’ rights in the state of Florida. And we’re going to continue to do that and make sure that our children are protected.

You see us doing a bunch of different things. They just put out a number of the materials that have been identified that have been in some of these Florida schools. Your 10-year-old kids having access to really explicit pornographic materials. Why is that have educational value? Why are you putting that in? And why would parents have to send their kids to school if they don’t want them exposed to that? So we’re showing that, and I think that this has been really good to empower parents to be able to make sure that things are following the right standards.

We’re going to work really hard with the legislature to be able to make this happen, this legislative session. I think we’ll be leading the way yet again on things that are really important. And what we’ve seen particularly over the last four or five years, the threats to freedom are not limited to what a bureaucracy may do. Yes, that’s a problem and we’re fighting Biden on every front on that, but you have some of these massive companies that have huge amounts of power to control the discourse, control what you see, use your personal information, and even collude with the government itself that we’ve got to fight back and provide protections for individual Floridians. And so that’s what we’re doing today. I’m glad to have support from for these efforts by our Attorney General Ashley Moody, who’s worked hard with us to protect children.

And she’s going to come on up and say a few things about her efforts and her support for this.

Speaker 1 (21:18):

Thank you, Ron.

Well, thank you so much governor, and thank you for being here today and showing that you care about these important issues. I mean, have you had or have you seen another leader come out and say, “We’re digging in. We’re working with lawmakers to tackle surveillance, censorship, engine transparency, protection of your data and protection of your children”. Have anybody else come out and done that? And we use these terms a lot. You hear the governor come out, and I commend him for this. This is why I love working in this administration. He will say, “Today we are taking bolder, bigger action”. I’m going to add one to that braver. Braver. And that is the definition of this governor.

He likes to say there was a time not long ago when the world went mad and insane and we stayed sane here in Florida. That is because this governor remains laser focused on his mission of protecting his people and specifically protecting their rights. And when you see other leaders see a storm is out there, controversy, problems, challenges, say, “I’m not going to go there”. They bury their head in the sand and hope that the storm passes. That is not the case in Florida, and that is why all of us sitting in this room are proud to be Floridians with this governor at the helm. And as many of you know, I am not just an attorney general. I am a mother struggling with a school-aged child at home. And governor, I don’t mean to diminish your job, but I’m going to say this mom of two children trying to manage their online safety, that may be a bigger job than both of ours combined. And I will tell you that firsthand, and we are all sensitive right now. We saw a Chinese spy balloon shot down. How many others have come since then? I’ve been warning for years about the collection of data. We now have pending investigations on the collection of data by these tech companies, including TikTok.

And we don’t want to wait here in Florida until we’re all trapped in a digital dungeon. And we’re reliant on CEOs to decide how much of our privacy to allow. Because I don’t know if you are keeping record, but we just got elected recently by historic margins, and I don’t remember big tech CEOs ever getting elected. And yet they have such control right now in this country. And unfortunately, our president and Congress have not done much about it. In fact, a lot of what we’re having to do here in Florida is because Congress is too busy dancing and not doing. They need to do something and give us better laws to protect Americans and protect Floridians.

And until that time, we in the States and as Floridians, luckily we have a governor like this, but other states need to be following suit, because Congress on so many issues is not digging in and giving us better laws. And we are going to, in Florida, continue to demand transparency from these big tech companies. We’re going to continue to demand that they protect our children. Google sells ads and puts client information at the top of searches. I don’t know about you, but I have to go down and down and down in searches to try and find things that I wasn’t searching for.

We’ve already been fighting this in courts. We have multiple investigations, multiple lawsuits currently. I just announced recently that we secured 390 million through a historic multi-state action against Google over its location tracking. But again, we can bring suit after suit as to anticompetitive conduct or their location track tracking services or consumer violations. But until we have better laws, until we have leaders that are willing to engage with legislatures, with our lawmakers and give us better laws, our courts will continue to have to deal with this.

And we are going to see this not just in big tech, it also happens in immigration and other matters. It is what’s causing much frustration. But I am grateful that we have a governor here and legislators and concerned citizens that are pushing for better laws, pushing for protection of Floridians against potentially threatening violations of privacy and sensitive information. My office and I have said for years that we think big tech needs a reboot. And so we’re here today to say we’re going to give them that reboot, a little tech support Florida style. Don’t tread on Florida. And we will look forward to working with and supporting the governor and our legislative leaders during this session. Thank you so much again for being here today.

Mark Glass (27:00):

Thank you, ma’am. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Good afternoon. I’m FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass, and I want to thank the governor, our governor for this great state, for spearheading this important initiative that impacts so many citizens here. As big tech continues to encroach more and more on our daily life from commerce to education to public forums, it is critical for Floridians to be able to trust that their personal information and that of their children is safe from cyber criminals. Also, it is paramount that citizens can trust that the information they get online… Information they often rely on to make important financial and life decisions is trustworthy and hasn’t been manipulated by bad actors.

At FDLE, combating cyber crime and protecting our children are key components of our public safety mission. From our ongoing Secure Florida initiatives to our cyber investigative units across our great state, to our missing endangered persons information clearing house and our child abduction response team operations and beyond. Between educating the public about online safety and pursuing cyber criminals who take advantage of our citizens, FDLE works every day with our law enforcement partners, our Attorney General’s office of statewide prosecution to make our state the safest and most secure in the nation. Now, our governor is a bold governor, and I applaud the governor’s proposed Digital Bill of Rights as a tremendous tool to empower Floridians to fight back against fraud online, to ensure that their information they receive is really what it seems, and to protect their children for malicious actors. Thank you Governor DeSantis for continually putting the safety and security of Florida families first over the demands of big tech and other special interest groups. This Bill of rights will help Florida Floridians sleep a little sounder at night… Knowing that freedom isn’t just a buzzword, but actually a way of life in this great state. And I will tell you parents, my wife and I raised our two children through this digital timeframe, and it is difficult to try to secure everything you can from them and to their friends. But I’ll tell you what. If you, and I’m going to promise you this, these companies and these people that are messing with your children, with this [inaudible 00:29:41] leadership that’s here, you’re messing with FDLE and we’re coming.

Speaker 2 (29:55):

Amen. Thank you, Governor, for having me here today. I am Seth Dylan,

Speaker 2 (30:00):

The CEO of the Babylon Bee, the world’s most trusted, factually accurate news source. You can think of us like the Onion, but funny. We’ve been reporting the truth and nothing but the truth with neither bias nor error ever since the universe and everything in it was created out of nothing exactly 6,000 years ago. Our website, however, didn’t launch until March of 2016, at which point we began sharing our highly acclaimed articles on social media. Many of them went viral and we quickly developed a large following. Within a matter of months, our site was generating millions of unique visitors and dozens of dollars in revenue. Our outlook was hopeful. It seemed like satire had a bright future, but what happened next is no joke. In an effort to crack down on the spread of misinformation, Facebook started working with third party fact checkers.

In 2018, we published a headline that read, “CNN purchases industrial size washing machine to spin news before publication.” Snopes rated that story false. Shortly thereafter, we got a message from Facebook saying that if we continued publishing misinformation, our page would be demonetized and removed from the platform. As Facebook began throttling our reach and threatening to de-platform us, we started seeing issues on other platforms too.

Our jokes were getting flagged for hate speech and incitement to violence. Our email service cut us off for spreading harmful misinformation. We found ourselves taking breaks from writing jokes to go on TV and defend our right to tell them in the first place. That’s a weird place to be in, as humorous in a free society. I think it’s tempting to view the opposition to the Bee as an attack on comedy, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. The attack is really aimed at truth and our right to speak it.

The further we zoom out, the more it looks like comedy may just be collateral damage in that larger conflict. A recent policy change at Facebook, I think illustrates the point. Not long ago, Facebook announced they’d continue to allow satire as long as it never targets marginalized groups who lack power and privilege. “True satire,” they said, “Does not punch down.” Satire that punches down, that is satire that takes aim, that protected targets, Facebook doesn’t want you joking about, will now be subject to censorship.

In fact, they made it clear, they’ll consider jokes that punched down to be hatred disguised as satire. Other platforms have apparently followed suit. We learned this the hard way with a joke we made about Rachel Levine, a transgender health admiral in the Biden administration. USA Today had named Rachel Levine a woman of the year, an insult to real women everywhere. So we fired back in Defense of Women Insanity with a satirical headline. “The Babylon Bee’s Man of the Year is Rachel Levine.”

Twitter was not amused. They locked our account for hateful conduct. “Delete the joke.” They said, “And you can have your account back.” We refused. As a result, we spent the next eight months in Twitter jail. This is one of the ways the system is rigged to protect the popular narrative. Big tech is defending a fantasy world where two and two make five by censoring anyone who’s so much as jokes about what reality is actually like, but it’s even worse than that.

Twitter executives went well beyond censorship when instead of taking down our joke, they required us to delete it and admit that we engaged in hateful conduct. That’s not censorship, it’s subjugation. I’ve long held that when you censor yourself, you’re doing the tyrants work for him. We never even considered it. What made this all the more outrageous was Twitter’s lip service commitment to free speech.

If you visit the site’s policy on hateful conduct, it starts out with a ringing tribute to free expression. “Twitter’s mission,” they write, “Is to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information and to express their opinions and beliefs without barriers.” Free expression is a human right, but this rings hollow when you consider the rest of the policy, which prohibits misgendering, dead naming, et cetera. They baked radical gender ideology into the terms of service so that even objectively true statements become enforceable policy violations.

It’d be one thing if these ideas were merely popular, but porting them into the terms of service of massive public platforms has taken them from mainstream to mandatory. You can’t criticize them. You can’t even joke about them. Comedians are being canceled and in some cases physically attacked if they step out of line and tell an off limits joke.

The comedian’s job is to poke holes in the popular narrative, whatever that narrative might be. If the popular narrative is off limits, then comedy itself is off limits, and that’s basically where we find ourselves today. The only reason Twitter is now an exception is because the world’s richest man took matters into his own hands and declared comedy legal again. The Washington Post reported that on his first day as CEO he issued an urgent directive, “Bring back the Babylon Bee.” While it was nice to have Elon looking out for us, the right of Americans to speak freely should be protected by the law. Justice Kennedy has acknowledged that social media platforms are indeed the public square of the digital age. These platforms are where the vast majority of public discourse take place, and while they’re owned by private companies, that doesn’t mean they should be able to do whatever they want.

There’s plenty of precedent for holding privately owned companies accountable for keeping the promises they make to their users and for preventing them from engaging in discriminatory behavior. I’m thankful to have leadership here in Florida that recognizes this and is willing to take action to ensure we all have the right to speak and yes, to even make jokes in the public square. Thank you.

Shannon Chapman (35:23):

Good afternoon. Thank you, Governor, for taking this important step to protect families like mine from the tyranny of big tech. My name is Shannon Chapman. I’m a mother of two boys who are now ages nine and 11. Like most parents, we are confronted with the challenges of keeping our children safe online. I vigilantly monitor my children’s media consumption, to the point we are no longer Disney plus subscribers, nor park goers because their programming and their messaging doesn’t align with our values.

I preview Netflix content for my kids or they don’t watch it. Things that were previously considered innocuous and entertaining now have an agenda and we want to make sure that our parenting isn’t undermined by what should be just entertainment. These challenges are only amplified by video streaming platform services like YouTube and TikTok. While both of my children don’t have phones, they do have iPads.

Like most children that age, they love YouTube and they receive suggestions for video series from their friends. Kids are innocent and inquisitive and they have no fear on clicking on anything. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to protect our children, one day, one of my sons, who was then eight years old, was on YouTube watching a video for a recent toy to put on his Christmas list. The next video that was automatically prompted, which again he told me it looked innocent enough, took him to a TikTok that which was reposted of someone, which was graphic in nature. It was they were being sexually abused.

My son would go on to have nightmares about what he witnessed. For weeks on end, he asked me why people would hurt children, why there were bad people in the world. And as a parent, I wanted to do my best to keep him and help him process what he saw, which was extremely upsetting for all of us.

We really had to talk about it. We even took him to a child psychologist to ensure he was okay. I was just trying to do right as a parent and a mother, anyone who would want to. We had three sessions and he was fine, but it could have been much, much worse. We didn’t invite these predators into our home. They designed these platforms, as you know, to maximize the engagement, to entice children. I think of parents who are working and they can’t police content this way and what their kids might be unknowingly exposed to because of it.

Someone must step in and say, “Enough is enough. Stop targeting our children.” We know TikTok is mining our children’s data like location, keystrokes, et cetera, on behalf of the Chinese government. It is not an innocent video app. It is nefarious. In fact, my children are not allowed to have TikTok accounts, but they end up watching content from it anyways.

In the end, it didn’t even matter whether they had an account or not, because a platform was able to host and repost a video before a content manager or moderator could get to it. And I’ve also learned that on our iPads, there is a loophole on a parental control that still allows you to get into the application. They need to be held accountable for allowing this type of content to be on their platform and for the harm that they do to all of our children. It is my hope that other parents will be able to do their due diligence, to see what’s out there so they can also keep their children safe. Thank you, Governor, for all the work you’re doing to protect our children.

Mark Glass (39:04):

Thank you, Governor, for allowing me to speak today. I answered an invitation just to be at this event, out there in the audience like the rest of you, but then I got asked a question if I knew anyone who might have been scammed in an online scam situation, and I just so happened to be one of those people. It was rather embarrassing to say it, but I was taken for a thousand dollars by an ad that was posted on Facebook marketplace.

I feel I was somewhat directly targeted because I had been shopping online for motorcycle trailers and I guess all this stuff we’ve been talking about, they know how to zoom in on all your information. There was an ad that posted that suited my needs perfectly, and I should have been aware that a price too low is too good to be true, but I went for it anyway.

The person, when I answered the ad, the person that was supposedly the seller sent me an email saying that they were going through an eBay buyer protection for the protection of both the seller and the purchaser. Sounded very good, so I followed through with that. They put me in contact with this supposed eBay buyer protection, who gave me a whole line of how I had to go about the procedure, go buy eBay cards, come back and basically give them the numbers of the cards.

It was supposedly set out there with a thing that said there was a guarantee that they would hold that information, pass on to the seller that it was done. Once the seller agreed to the sale going through, then they would contact how I would get the trailer and it was supposed to include delivery in this price.

After they got that thousand dollars worth of cards from me, the seller sent me another message saying that, eBay protection now needs another thousand dollars for … how did they word it? Insurance protection on the shipping. All right. Shipping was supposed to be included, but at that point, that’s when I realized I’d been taken, so when I started questioning that, suddenly buyer, eBay protection, everybody quit answering to my either emails or phone calls, whichever it was.

At that point, I contacted eBay directly to find out, is this even part of your service? They indicated to me, “No, you’ve been taken, those cards are gone. You lost your thousand dollars,” and told me to report it to their spam or scam division and then to follow up with the FTC, which I did.

This whole thing, like I said, it’s embarrassing to say that I was taken for that money, because I think of myself as a little smarter than that, but it was done in a very elaborate way to target an individual with information about them that made them think it was real. And yes, I happen to be a senior citizen, retired now. This could have happened to a 25-year-old. I don’t know how we cracked down on it, but I’m certainly putting a lot of stock in this man to push for that. Thank you very much.

Govenor DeSantis (43:07):

Thank you.

Mark Glass (43:08):

Thank you.

Govenor DeSantis (43:12):

So we’re really excited about this.I think those of you who have been following us this week, we’ve had a number of initiatives announced on Monday. We did probably the strongest anti ESG reforms that any state has attempted, and I think that’s really important. Yesterday, we announced a number of reforms to our tort system and our legal system, so that we’re not one of the nation’s top judicial hell holes anymore, and we can actually have a even stronger economy and a fairer system. And we have more coming down the pike over the next couple weeks, before the legislative session starts on March 8th. So buckle up. All right. Anybody got questions?

Chris Nelson (44:00):

Yes. Governor DeSantis, Chris Nelson, welcome back to South Florida, and I remember you being down here two years ago signing SB7072, the big tech bill, and a lot of your critics see that as one of the failures in the whole sea of legal successes you’ve had. I know it’s still going to the Supreme Court, but during that period of time over the past few years, Fauci was still censoring Facebook. [inaudible 00:44:27] Roth was still censoring people on Twitter. What have you learned and what different approach are you taking with this bill to make sure it’ll be successful and stand up to legal muster?

Govenor DeSantis (44:38):

Well, first of all, I would just point out, 2021, I said at the time when we signed it, it was going to go to the Supreme Court. We had eyes wide open on that, because if you look at what we’re doing, we’re arguing that these big tech companies ain’t just your normal business down the street. But we also understood, there’s elements in the federal judiciary that are aligned with big tech,

Govenor DeSantis (45:00):

… ideologically, leftist judges mostly. But then, you also have some of these more old school Chamber of Commerce Republican judges, and their view is, “Well, it’s private, so you can’t do anything about it.” With just having total blinders on about the amount of power that big tech has and the amount of protection that they have. So, we went into that eyes wide open. We knew that it was going to be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court. We knew Texas and some of these other states would likely follow. It’s created the exact conflict that we predicted would happen. I still think it’s going to be a tough case at the Supreme Court because I think you’ve got some justices that are definitely seeing it our way. Others definitely won’t. And then, you got a number in the middle who may lean towards more of that Chamber of Commerce view of the law, so we’ll just have to see.

But here’s the thing. Was I just going to do nothing? I had to go and do whatever we could, and I think we structured it in a way with the consumer fraud angle that had the best chance of withstanding a First Amendment attack. And I think ultimately, the Supreme Court, at least some justice can agree with us on this. This I think is a little bit different, what we’re dealing with today, in terms of Digital Bill of Rights. No one is going to say that a tech company has a First Amendment to surveil you. We can absolutely regulate business practices so that they’re doing business in Florida, they’re offering you these products, that they do so in a way that respects your privacy. And I think that’s going to be totally fine.

I think what we’re doing with CCP related platforms, not just TikTok, but others, no problem on taking care of that, beyond what I’ve already done in executive order. I think that’s going to be great. I think the protections for the children, I think are common sense. I don’t think you’re going to see very much in the way. Now, I do think you will see some of these big search engines like Google not accept that there should be transparency in search results. But at the end of the day, they’re doing business in our state, they’re making a fortune off people in our state. And we believe that if they’re going to do that, they should do that transparently.

So, I think these are different issues there. But I think in 2021, had we not started that, I don’t think any other state would’ve done anything, because as Ashley said, Congress isn’t doing a darn thing about any of this. And no one at the federal level has done anything about this the way they needed to. So, we were the right to do it. Texas, some other states have followed, and we will get a resolution on this one way or another. Yes, sir.

Speaker 3 (47:32):

Governor DeSantis, yesterday, Representative Rayner-Goolsby and Shevrin Jones, two of your biggest detractors in the state legislature, they actually praised you for what you’re doing with protecting children online. They filed one piece of legislation praising you and saying that, “We need to protect kids from grooming,” using that term. What does that say? How do you feel about two of your biggest detractors actually praising you for what you’ve been doing and considering that they actually opposed your Parental Rights and Education Bill?

Govenor DeSantis (48:03):

Well look, I think it’s common sense. The Parental Rights and Education, I think some of the folks in the legislature, for partisan reasons, made the mistake of opposing that. They tried to manufacture a narrative. But I think parents, almost to a man, when they find out, yeah, you should not have sexuality involved in elementary school. It’s not appropriate. It’s not appropriate to tell a third-grader that they may have been born in the wrong body. So, that I think is something that people get. And when they take off the political blinders, and they actually see things, they’re good. And it’s sad that this is the case, but there is just an effort that we see in different parts of society to inject this into these younger kids, and we say that that’s wrong. Yes, sir.

Speaker 4 (48:46):

Hello. [inaudible 00:48:48] News. Last week in her State of the Union response, Sarah Huckabee Sanders talked about the importance of a new generation of Republican leadership. Today, in her presidential announcement, [inaudible 00:48:57] the Republican parties lost seven out of the last eight popular votes for president. She called for a new generation as well. Do you agree?

Govenor DeSantis (49:06):

Well, I think what we’ve done in Florida is really show that here in the state of Florida. Now, we’ve had a lot of success in Florida long before I was here, and I appreciate a lot of that. But I think I was able to come in at a time where we were able to take the bull by the horns, navigate a lot of significant issues, from COVID to all these other things, and do it in a way that’s leading the nation on issue after issue. So, we’ve established here in Florida a blueprint for success that other states can follow. And you don’t even need to get into the nitty-gritty of everything we’ve done, although I think it’s interesting to do. All you got to say is the states that have taken the polar opposite approach as we have, governors who are more concerned with me than they are with doing their own state’s business, in some respects, you look at how those states have fared, and look at the people that have fled those states, and look at the people that have gravitated to Florida. And that really speaks volumes.

Just think about all that we’re seeing in some of these jurisdictions with crime going through the roof. People don’t even feel safe in their communities when they were in safe communities even like 10 years ago. Florida, our crime rate’s at a 50-year low. We just had 14% year-over-year decline in murders. As these other states are going in that direction, we’ve supported law enforcement. We’re making sure to protect folks. So, just the results are what they are. But I do think that we’ve been able to come in, and for those of you who are interested in learning more about this story, I actually have a book coming out that talks a little bit about it. But I do think that we were just given the opportunity to really run with this and take the model of Florida from being one that is really full spectrum, dealing with all the issues that matter to so many people. Yes, sir.

Joe Contreras (51:03):

Yes. Joe Contreras. I’m with the Guardian newspaper and the Washington Monthly magazine. Among the areas you identified-

Govenor DeSantis (51:11):

That’s like left of the left, right?

Joe Contreras (51:15):

Can I ask my question, sir?

Govenor DeSantis (51:16):

No, you can, but I just… I’ve seen. It’s interesting.

Joe Contreras (51:21):

Among the areas you identified for academic reform in your January 31st press conference, were the diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and policies, often known as DEI for short, in effect at Florida’s public universities and colleges. Yet DEI was mandated by the Florida Board of Governors in the fall of 2020, that was on your watch. And most of the board members were appointed either by you or your predecessor, Rick Scott. Why did it take you more than two years, Governor, to suddenly decide that DEI should be abolished in the state university system? Thank you.

Govenor DeSantis (52:02):

So, it’s a good question. One, it wasn’t at my direction. I didn’t know what DEI was a couple years ago as this had taken hold. It sounds innocuous. I thought maybe diversity of ideas, maybe actually have more than one viewpoint. Well, that’s not what it is. What it is it’s trying to enforce a political agenda and a political orthodoxy under the auspices of administration. And that is something that is not in the best interest of this state. It’s incredibly divisive. It’s incredibly divisive. And I don’t necessarily think anyone that supported this in the past necessarily had bad motives. But I think if you look to see how it’s worked in practice, it’s been an embarrassment to see some of the things that have come out at Florida State, at some of these universities here. It’s not an appropriate use of the administrative machinery of a university that, oh, by the way, subsist on the generosity of the taxpayers of the state of Florida.

These are not private institutions. They’re public institutions. And we have the right, who are elected and who are putting people in positions, to make sure that those institutions are serving a mission that is consistent with the state’s best interest. So, as this has become a problem, I asked to get more information about it. We got them reporting how much money they’re spending on it. We introduced legislation to remedy that. And we will be the first state in these United States to wipe out DEI at our public universities.

Chris Gilmore (53:43):

Chris Gilmore WPTV here. Governor, thank you for being here today. I have a question about some news that came out of your office today, the Unauthorized Alien Transport program you just signed into law, and the migrants that it affects getting shipped across the country. What’s your defense of the practice and level of compassion for the families affected? And how could that $10 million of taxpayer money possibly be spent to address things like the housing crisis here in Palm Beach County?

Govenor DeSantis (54:06):

Well, I would say that some of these folks going to these sanctuary jurisdictions are in much better circumstances than just being stranded somewhere with nowhere to go. It’s not about them because these are sanctuary jurisdictions that beated their chest just a few years ago about how nobody was illegal and all. Now that they’re getting people going there, it’s like this huge problem, and they’re complaining about it. And I think what it’s done is it’s highlighted this issue in a way that would not have been highlighted any other way. Think about it. You have the mayor of New York City traveling to the southern border. That would not have happened if you had not had transports going into the city. So, I would love to not have to deal with this at all. I would love to not have to deal with this at all.

But you have a total disaster that’s unfolded on that border for over two years. You’ve had millions and millions of people come across illegally from over 100 different countries. Nobody knows who the folks are. We have no idea what they’re going to do when they get here, but that’s what’s happened. So, the root of the problem is what’s going on at the border. They could easily institute different policies. They could build, finish building the border wall. They could do remain in Mexico. They could do a lot of different things.

But I’ll tell you, when we did the one to Martha’s Vineyard, there’s not been a single thing that has happened… There’s not been a single thing that has happened since Biden’s been in that has raised awareness of this more than that. And they actually had to change some policy. They did do some limited remain in Mexico as a result of it. So, I’ve got enough issues dealing with people fleeing blue states to manage everybody that’s coming here. I can’t have people all across the border coming into Florida as well and us to be able to handle it. It’s just too much to handle. Thanks, every…

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.