Florida Record

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Legislation to erase century-old telegraph law from the books expected to be signed by governor


By Juliette Fairley | Mar 24, 2020

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Sen. Ben Albritton | Facebook

The Florida Senate unanimously voted in favor of a bill that repeals a chapter of state law that applies to outdated technology.

The telegraph machine was replaced long ago but laws that regulate its liability remain on the books.

But not for long. Now that tweets, emails and texting are communication norms, Sen. Ben Albritton introduced Senate Bill 1256 and Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law a full three years after the Federal Communications Commission updated its rules to remove regulations outmoded by technological advances and market forces.

Albritton did not immediately respond to requests for comment about how SB 1256 emerged.

Among the deletions were a number of references to telegraph services, according to an analysis posted online about SB 1256.

For example, a segment of chapter 363, F.S. states, "The receipt by any person engaged in the telegram business of a message for transmission constitutes notice to that person that the telegram is important, requiring prompt and correct transmission and delivery."

Chapter 363, F.S. dates back to 1907 when a delayed telegram message was presumed to be negligent and telegraph companies were assessed a $50 fee.

It created liability for telegraph or telegram companies when there were negligent acts, penalties, damages, attorney fees and legal procedures, according to media reports.

If enacted, the bill takes effect on July 1. No financial impact is expected.

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