Will New Florida Law Protect Conservatives?
On Monday, Florida’s principled limited government constitutional conservative Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill—the first of its kind in the United States—allowing
Floridians to sue Big Tech platforms.
Courts may award up to $100,000 in damages to an individual if a social media platform censors or shadowbans a user’s content, deplatforms a user, or if it hasn’t applied censorship or deplatforming standards in a consistent manner, according to the text of the bill.
“We will be the first state to hold Big Tech accountable,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “They are exerting a power that really has no precedent in American history.”
Big tech companies that violate the new law can be sued by Floridians for monetary damages. The state’s attorney general can bring action against companies that violate this law under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Bowen Xiao noted in an article for the Epoch Times, the governor mentioned that people were deplatformed for discussing the Wuhan lab leak theory regarding the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, whereas now that theory has become a topic of mainstream discussion.
The law also blocks Big Tech from deplatforming Floridian political candidates. The Florida Election Commission will impose fines of $250,000 per day on any social media company that deplatforms any candidates for statewide office. The fine is $25,000 per day when deplatforming candidates for other offices.
While opponents of the new law claim it is all about reinstating former President Trump where he has been deplatformed, there are other less well-known candidates who have been similarly discriminated against.
Conservative journalist, author and congressional candidate Laura Loomer is probably the most notable example. Ms. Loomer, who is Jewish, was deplatformed for making truthful statements that allegedly offended Muslims. Since that time any mention of Ms. Loomer or her work is banned on several online platforms and she was prohibited from using social media in her congressional campaign – despite the deplatforming she won the Republican primary, but was defeated in Florida’s heavily Democratic 21st congressional district.
“SB 7072 is a bold first step to reining in Big Tech tyranny by defending the rights of all Floridians in the digital space,” DeSantis said. “Over the years, these platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provide Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.
“Florida is the first state to hold Big Tech accountable by empowering each and every Floridian silenced by arbitrary corporate censorship to fight back. This is a groundbreaking bill that protects Floridians from Silicon Valley’s power grab.” While Floridians have the right to block anyone, it’s not the role of Big Tech to censor, said DeSantis.
Mr. Xiao reports proponents believe the new law will likely be able to withstand legal challenges, as it contains language that explains how Big Tech companies are different from other corporations, and that Section 230 requires companies to act in good faith—something the governor accuses Big Tech of not always following.
Opponents of the new Florida law point to a United States Supreme Court case, Miami Herald v. Tornillo, as evidence the new Transparency in Technology Act will be struck down if it is ever invoked.
In that case the Supreme Court found government coercion could not be the answer to media bias and manipulative reportage. “However much validity may be found in these arguments, at each point the implementation of a remedy such as an enforceable right of access necessarily calls for some mechanism, either governmental or consensual. If it is governmental coercion, this at once brings about a confrontation with the express provisions of the First Amendment.”
Kurt Opsahl, Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel of the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes the Transparency in Technology Act almost certainly will be found unconstitutional due to its parallels with Miami Herald v. Tornillo.
Mr. Opsahl may be right, and Florida’s Transparency in Technology Act may fall to a court challenge based on the doctrines the Supreme Court established in Miami Herald v. Tornillo. However, that doesn’t mean legislatures are powerless to hold the tech oligarchy to account. We like what Governor DeSantis said about the lack of good faith in the social media platforms’ moderation policies and if the Transparency in Technology Act fails on the principles established in Miami Herald v. Tornillo then the Florida legislature, Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody should waste no time in pursuing that remedy.
Governor Ron DeSantis
Big Tech platforms
right to sue
Transparency in Technology Act