Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis takes on Big Tech 'censorship' with new law

Epoch Times

The Big Tech Bill, as DeSantis calls it, allows residents to fight back against de-platforming and censorship, allowing them to sue tech companies for up to $100,000 in damages for each proven claim in a bid to ensure companies are more transparent about their content moderation practices. Specifically, the law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, bars the companies from suspending political candidates for more than 14 days as elections loom, the Washington Post reports.

The new law will enable the state to fine large social media companies $250,000 a day if they remove an account of a statewide political candidate, and $25,000 a day if they remove an account of someone running for a local office. Federal law prevents internet companies from being sued for removing posts and federal law trumps state law when there is a conflict. "If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable". Numerous bills have died, but a proposal is still being debated in Texas. Google and Facebook did not immediately offer comments on the signing of the bill. Facebook declined to comment.

"These enterprises take responsibility for what appears on their platforms and have the right to do so", Gibson said. "Over the years, these platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provide Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives".

In Florida, as in dozens of other states, the Republican lawmakers' push to punish social media companies follows the party's other efforts to feed the demands of a conservative base that remains loyal to Trump. "By carving out companies like Disney and Universal, Florida's legislature revealed its anti-tech fervor and true intent to punish social media for allegations of anti-conservative bias".

"If Republicans really cared about protecting our First Amendment rights, they would never have allowed risky and anti-American HB 1 to pass through the Florida Legislature and be signed into law".

The bill requires companies to publish censorship, de-platforming, and shadow ban standards. The First Amendment prohibits the government from compelling or controlling speech on private websites, he added.

Matt Schruers, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, another trade group, said the law is "unconstitutional".

"I think this is the beginning of testing judges' limits on these sorts of restrictions for social media", he said.



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