Florida sued to punish social media companies for blocking politicians
TALLAHASSEE, Fla – Two groups representing online businesses sued Florida on Thursday over a new law to punish large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter if they remove content or ban politicians.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that will allow the state to fine large social media sites if they deactivate a statewide politician’s account and will allow any Floridian to sue these companies if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
NetChoice, a lobbying company that represents Twitter TWTR,
and other online companies, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association have filed a lawsuit, claiming the law violates First Amendment rights.
Tallahassee U.S. District Court Complaint Says Law Stops Companies From Protecting Users, Advertisers And The Public From “Pornography, Incitement To Terrorism, False Propaganda Created And Distributed By Hostile Foreign Governments , calls for genocide or racial violence, disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines, fraudulent schemes, gross violations of privacy, counterfeit products and other violations of intellectual property rights, intimidation and harassment, conspiracy theories denying the Holocaust or 9/11; and dangerous computer viruses. “
DeSantis attacked Big Tech at a press conference for signing the bill, comparing him to Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel “1984”. He said internet companies censor posts that don’t fit Silicon Valley ideology.
In response to Twitter and Facebook blocking former President Donald Trump, Republicans across the country have attacked social media companies for what they call censorship of conservative ideology. While similar bills have been tabled in other states, DeSantis was the first governor to sign one.
The governor’s office defended the new law, saying big tech companies discriminated politically and ideologically and the law protected the constitutional rights of Floridians.
“Big Tech is in some ways more powerful than government and certainly less responsible. Freedom of speech is a sacred right for all Americans. It is recognized that the government has a role to play in protecting consumers from discrimination and deceptive / unfair business practices, and this law falls under that authority to contain a powerful entity that overrides the free speech rights of individuals. individuals, ”said DeSantis spokesperson Taryn Fenske. .
The law that comes into force on July 1 provides for a fine of $ 250,000 per day if a statewide political candidate’s account is inactive and $ 25,000 per day if he deletes the account from a candidate for a local office.
The law will give the Florida Attorney General the power to prosecute businesses under the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Business Practices Act. It will also allow individual Floridians to sue social media companies for up to $ 100,000 if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
The law targets social media platforms that have more than 100 million monthly users worldwide, including online giants like Twitter and Facebook. But lawmakers created an exception for Disney DIS,
and their applications including that the owners of theme parks would not be subject to the law.
The law will require large social media companies to publish standards for how they will decide to “censor, deplete and ban from the shadows.”
Even before the lawsuit was filed, experts wondered if it would be enforceable.
Federal law prevents Internet companies from being prosecuted for job cuts, and federal law prevails over state law in the event of a conflict.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act exempts websites from being prosecuted for removing content deemed “obscene, obscene, lascivious, dirty, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable” as long as the companies act in “good faith”.
“By limiting the ability of digital services to fight bad actors online, this law threatens to make the internet a safe space for criminals, disbelievers and foreign agents, thus putting Floridians at risk,” said the President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, Matt Schruers. Release. “Gov. DeSantis is right that this is a free speech issue: a digital service that refuses to host harmful content is exercising its own First Amendment rights. “