Florida Senate - 2024                                     SB 920
       By Senator Polsky
       30-00856-24                                            2024920__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to electronic harassment; creating s.
    3         784.0491, F.S.; defining terms; authorizing a person
    4         to bring a civil action against another person if the
    5         actor intentionally posts another person’s personal
    6         identifying information without consent of the person
    7         whose information is posted and if certain criteria
    8         are met; authorizing a victim to recover damages and
    9         any other appropriate relief, including reasonable
   10         attorney fees; providing for joint and several
   11         liability; authorizing injunctive relief; providing
   12         applicability and construction; providing for
   13         jurisdiction and severability; providing for liberal
   14         construction and application; providing an effective
   15         date.
   17  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   19         Section 1. Section 784.0491, Florida Statutes, is created
   20  to read:
   21         784.0491 Electronic harassment.—
   22         (1)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   23         (a)Close relation” means a current or former spouse or
   24  domestic partner, a parent, a child, a sibling, a stepchild, a
   25  stepparent, a grandparent, any person who regularly resides in
   26  the household or who within the prior 6 months regularly resided
   27  in the household, or any person with a significant personal or
   28  professional relationship.
   29         (b)Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed
   30  of two or more acts, evidencing a continuity of purpose.
   31         (c)“Electronic communication” means any transfer of signs,
   32  signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any
   33  nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio,
   34  electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photooptical system that
   35  affects interstate or foreign commerce.
   36         (d)“Mental anguish” means emotional distress or emotional
   37  suffering as evidenced by anxiety, fear, torment, or
   38  apprehension that may or may not result in a physical
   39  manifestation of mental anguish or a mental health diagnosis.
   40  The mental anguish must be protracted and not merely trivial or
   41  transitory.
   42         (e)“Personal identifying information” means any
   43  information that can be used to distinguish or trace a person’s
   44  identity, such as a name, a prior legal name, an alias, a
   45  mother’s maiden name, or a date or place of birth in combination
   46  with any other information that is linked or linkable to the
   47  person, including, but not limited to:
   48         1.A social security number, a home address, a phone
   49  number, or biometric data;
   50         2.Medical, financial, education, consumer, or employment
   51  information, data, or records;
   52         3.Any other sensitive personal information that is linked
   53  or linkable to a specific identifiable person, such as gender
   54  identity, sexual orientation, or any sexually intimate visual
   55  depiction; or
   56         4.Any information that provides access to a person’s
   57  teleconferencing, video-teleconferencing, or other digital
   58  meeting room.
   59         (f)“Post” means to circulate, deliver, distribute,
   60  disseminate, transmit, or otherwise make available to two or
   61  more persons through electronic communication.
   62         (g)“Publish” means to circulate, deliver, distribute,
   63  disseminate, transmit, or otherwise make available to another
   64  person or persons.
   65         (h)“Regularly resides” means residing in the household
   66  with some permanency or regular frequency in the living
   67  arrangement.
   68         (i)“Stalk” or “stalking” means to knowingly or
   69  intentionally engage in a course of conduct, without a
   70  legitimate purpose, directed at or concerning a specific person
   71  that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her
   72  safety or the safety of a close relation or to suffer
   73  substantial emotional distress.
   74         (j)“Substantial life disruption” means that a person
   75  significantly modifies his or her actions or routines in an
   76  attempt to avoid the actor or because of the actor’s course of
   77  conduct, such as changing a phone number, changing an electronic
   78  mail address, deleting personal electronic accounts,
   79  significantly decreasing use of the Internet, moving from an
   80  established residence, changing daily routines, changing routes
   81  to and from work, changing employment or a work schedule, or
   82  losing time from work or a job.
   83         (2)OFFENSE.—A person may bring a civil action against
   84  another person if the actor intentionally posts another person’s
   85  personal identifying information without consent of the person
   86  whose information is posted, and:
   87         (a)The information is posted with the intent to harm or
   88  harass the person and with the knowledge or reckless disregard
   89  that the person whose information is posted would be reasonably
   90  likely to suffer death, bodily injury, or stalking; and
   91         (b)The posting of the personal identifying information
   92  causes the person whose information is posted to suffer
   93  significant economic injury, mental anguish, or to fear serious
   94  bodily injury or death for oneself or for a close relation to
   95  him or her, or to suffer a substantial life disruption.
   97         (a)Civil action.An individual who is a victim of an
   98  offense specified under subsection (2) may bring a civil action
   99  against the person who committed the offense or against any
  100  person who knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving
  101  anything of value, from participation in a venture that the
  102  person knew or should have known was in violation of this
  103  section. The victim may recover damages and any other
  104  appropriate relief, including reasonable attorney fees.
  105         (b)Joint and several liability.—An individual who is found
  106  liable under this subsection is jointly and severally liable
  107  with each other person, if any, who is found liable under this
  108  subsection for all damages arising from the same violation of
  109  this section.
  110         (4)INJUNCTIVE RELIEF.—A court in which a suit is brought
  111  under this section may, upon the motion of a party, issue a
  112  temporary restraining order or a temporary or permanent
  113  injunction to restrain and prevent the disclosure or the
  114  continued disclosure of a party’s personal identifying
  115  information.
  117         (a)Applicability.It is not a violation of this section
  118  for a person to:
  119         1.Provide a person’s personal identifying information in
  120  connection with the reporting of criminal activity to an
  121  employee of a law enforcement agency or with any lawfully
  122  authorized investigative, protective, or intelligence activity
  123  of any law enforcement agency or of an intelligence agency of
  124  the United States and the person making the report reasonably
  125  believes it is true;
  126         2.Provide a person’s personal identifying information in
  127  connection with a lawful and constitutionally protected activity
  128  as it pertains to speech, assembly, or petition; or
  129         3.Disseminate a person’s personal identifying information
  130  for the purpose of, or in connection with, the reporting of
  131  conduct reasonably believed to be unlawful.
  132         (b)Construction.—This section may not be construed to:
  133         1.Conflict with 47 U.S.C. s. 230 of the Communication
  134  Decency Act;
  135         2.Conflict with 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 of the Civil Rights Act;
  136  or
  137         3.Prohibit any activity protected under the United States
  138  Constitution or the State Constitution.
  139         (6)JURISDICTION.—A civil action may be brought in any
  140  county in which an element of the offense occurred, or in which
  141  a person resides who is the subject of the personal identifying
  142  information that was posted as an element of the offense.
  143         (7)SEVERABILITY.—If any provision of this section as now
  144  or later amended or its application to any person or
  145  circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect
  146  other provisions or applications of this section which can be
  147  given effect without the invalid provision or application, and
  148  to this end the provisions of this section are severable.
  149         (8)CONSTITUTIONALITY.—The Legislature does not intend, nor
  150  does this section allow, civil actions to be brought forward for
  151  constitutionally protected activity.
  152         (9)LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION AND APPLICATION.—This section must
  153  be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying
  154  purpose to protect persons from becoming, and provide adequate
  155  remedies to, victims.
  156         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.