Two tech industry organizations have filed a lawsuit against Florida over their new social media law.
NetChoice and the CCIA — which represent Amazon, Google, Intel, Samsung, Facebook, and other tech giants, say the ‘Stop Social Media Censorship Act’violates private companies’ constitutional rights.
They’re asking a court to prevent the law from taking effect, calling it a “frontal assault on the First Amendment.”
The two companies allege that the legislation infringes on free speech protections and targets companies based on the state’s opinion on companies’ content moderation.
“Rather than preventing what it calls ‘censorship,’ the Act does the exact opposite: it empowers government officials in Florida to police the protected editorial judgment of online businesses that the State disfavor and whose perceived political viewpoints it wishes to punish,” the lawsuit states.
The Stop Social Media Censorship Act stops tech companies from banning politicians in the state of Florida. The Florida Election Commission can fine companies that de-platform Florida candidates $250,000 per day and $25,000 per day for candidates outside of the state.
“U.S. free speech principles protect the public from government penalties for speech; they do not protect elected officials from the speech choices of the public. Forcing a company to publish government officials’ speech is more characteristic of last-century dictatorship than 21st-century democracies,” Matt Schruers, CCIA President, said.
Governor DeSantis says that the law holds big tech companies accountable for enforcing rules inconsistently.
“We’re basically advancing a state consumer fraud theory. You know, they’re advertising certain things; they have certain service terms. They’re not abiding by that. That is a fraud on the public. So we think that that will be upheld, but we absolutely anticipate litigation,” the Governor said.
Christina Pushaw, a spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, defended the legislation.
“It is recognized that government has a role in protecting consumers against discrimination and deceptive/unfair trade practices, and this law is within that authority to rein in a powerful entity that oversteps individuals’ free speech rights. We have no comment on any specific lawsuit, but we anticipated legal challenges. We are confident that this new legislation has a strong legal basis and protects Floridians’ constitutional rights,” Pushaw said.
Senator Ron Wyden says that the bill is an “invitation for extremist, racists, and liars to register as political candidates just to keep their posts online.”
Former President Donald Trump was permanently de-platformed by several social media companies after the deadly insurrection on January 6. The disgraced president now runs a blog — ‘From The Desk of Trump.’
Legal observers predict the Florida social media law would be struck down in court.
“This is so obviously unconstitutional, you wouldn’t even put it on an exam,” said A. Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami.