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January 24, 2018

Privacy expert Jon Mills’ research provided to CRC

TALLAHASSEE, FL – New research on Florida’s constitutional right to privacy and the impact that modifications to that right was submitted today to the Declaration of Rights Committee of the Constitution Revision Commission.

The report, prepared by University of Florida Law professor Jon Mills, analyzes the broad scope of the current constitutional provision and dramatic impact that of any modification of the right to privacy would have on the private lives of all Floridians. 

Proposal 22, to be considered tomorrow by the CRC’s Declaration of Rights Committee, proposes to reduce the right to privacy to protect only personal information the government collects and distributes.

University of Florida Law Professor Jon Mills is a recognized privacy expert. He is the former Dean of the University of Florida Law School, a former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and a member of the 1998 Constitution Revision Commission.

As a member of the Florida House of representatives, Mills was one of the authors of the 1980 amendment that was approved by the voters establishing a broad right to privacy in the State’s Constitution.

“Florida’s Privacy Amendment offers Floridians a shield to protect themselves in a future in which technology and government intrusions are not predictable and frankly, completely unknowable,” said Mills in the report submitted today too Lisa Carlton, Chair of the CRC’s Declaration of Rights Committee. “If Florida’s Privacy Amendment did not extend protections to personal autonomy and decision making, there is no doubt that Florida citizens would be subject to a higher possibility of governmental intrusion in their private lives.”

Mills’ report details how the proposed reduction of privacy rights to only protect personal information could dramatically reduce privacy protections and expose Floridians to a broad range of legislative regulation and government intrusion into personal areas involving:

  • Marriage
  • Intimate sexual relations
  • Reproductive decisions
  • Parenting, including a parent or guardian’s right to child rearing such as the right to home school or to provide alternative forms of education
  • Personal conduct relating to safety and public welfare
  • Personal activities in dwellings or other personal spaces
  • Personal medical decisions outside the context of abortion, such as end of life decisions or mandated medical treatment
  • Public employment and licensing standards, including policies permitting or requiring genetic testing for public employment or state licenses

“Clearly it is the sponsor’s intent to end the state-constitutional right of privacy as it applies to the decisions that women make about their reproductive health,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “But the research provided to the CRC today shows that the unintended consequences of this flawed proposal would go much further and seriously undermine Floridians’ fundamental right to privacy from governmental intrusions in many other walks of life.”

The current effort to weaken Floridians’ privacy protections is being spearheaded by CRC member John Stemberger. Weakening Floridians’ privacy protections would subject women to a range of medically-unnecessary abortion restrictions that have been barred in Florida because of the state constitution’s strong right to privacy.

A coalition of organizations including the League of Women Voters of Florida, Florida NOW, ACLU of Florida, Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, Anti-Defamation League of Florida and others have strongly opposed Proposal 22 and are urging CRC members on the Declaration of Rights Committee to protect Floridians’ right to privacy.

A copy of the report is available here: