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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Rejects Federal Central Bank Digital Currency, Signs Groundbreaking Bill Safeguarding Personal Finances from Government Control and Surveillance

by Miles Dyson

In a historic, first-of-its kind law in the nation, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed into law on May 12, 2023, a landmark piece of legislation aimed at protecting citizens’ personal financial information from intrusive government surveillance and control. This law bolsters Floridians’ privacy rights in an era of heightened concerns over data security.

The new law prohibits the use of any central bank digital currency (“CBDC”) issued by the federal government by excluding any such CBDC from the definition of money under Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code. It also bars credit card companies from utilizing firearm-specific Merchant Category Codes and imposes a fine for violations of Florida’s consumer protections against gun-owner registries.

A CBDC is a digital form of government-issued currency. CBDCs are issued by central banks, which are responsible for supporting financial services for a nation’s government and commercial-banking system, establish monetary policy, and issue currency. For example, the Federal Reserve serves as the central bank for the U.S., but despite its name is not a part of the federal government.

The danger of CBDCs is that they allow the government an unlimited amount of control over the population because CBDCs are entirely electronic and under the complete control of a single, centralized entity – the government. Consequently, in theory (but also easily implemented), the government could dictate what people can spend their money on and when they can spend it. By having this degree of control over people’s money, individuals could lose access to their own funds if they do or say something with which the government disagrees, and the government can easily track everything a person buys as well as directly collect taxes and fines via the CBDC. The degree of control over the money supply and the population CBDCs allow the issuing government is limited only by the imagination of the politicians and bureaucrats in charge.

“The government and large credit card companies should not have the power to shut off access to your hard-earned money because they disagree with your politics,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Biden’s Central Bank Digital Currency aims to increase government control over people’s finances, and we will not allow it. In Florida, we value personal freedom and won’t allow self-interested elites to chip away at our liberty.”

Governor DeSantis, flanked by a bipartisan group of legislators, signed the bill during a ceremony at the state capitol, emphasizing the significance of this momentous occasion. In his remarks, he underscored the importance of striking the right balance between maintaining public safety and preserving the privacy rights cherished by Floridians.

“The era of unchecked government intrusion into the private financial lives of our citizens ends today,” Governor DeSantis declared. “This bill ensures that Floridians can trust that their personal financial information remains confidential and secure, without compromising our commitment to maintaining law and order. It sets a powerful example for the rest of the nation to follow.”

The legislation establishes robust measures to shield Floridians’ financial data from unwarranted governmental access. It prohibits government agencies from conducting surveillance on personal finances without obtaining a valid warrant or court order, explicitly safeguarding the privacy of individuals and businesses. This measure also provides legal recourse for those whose financial privacy rights have been violated.

The passage of this groundbreaking bill in Florida is expected to have far-reaching implications beyond state borders. Legal experts anticipate that it will spur similar discussions and initiatives across the country, prompting other states to explore measures that safeguard personal financial privacy rights.

The law was praised by civil liberties groups, who have long argued that the government’s collection of financial data is a major threat to privacy. “This is a major victory for privacy advocates,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. “This law will help to ensure that the government cannot use our financial data to track us, discriminate against us, or target us for surveillance.”

The law is likely to face legal challenges from the federal government, which has argued that it has broad authority to collect financial data in the name of national security. But DeSantis said he is confident that the law will be upheld in court. “This law is constitutional,” he said. “It protects the privacy of our citizens and their financial information.”

The law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.

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