Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis did what he said he would do and fired a shot across the bow of the censoring tech tyrants on Monday by signing SB 7072 into law. The bill allows Floridians to sue woke big tech companies who arbitrarily enforce their terms of service and treat Floridians unfairly, and it doesn’t matter if it’s via censorship used as a weapon to silence opposing Free Speech or when they deplatform someone without telling them why they did it. The bill also gives the state Attorney General the authority to go after the tech tyrant companies while prohibiting them from censoring and/or deplatforming politicians or political candidates. And no, this has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
Governor DeSantis took to it right into the belly of social media and tweeted out the news and warning to big tech tyrants that Florida is not putting up with their anti-Free Speech behavior.
“Florida’s Big Tech Bill gives every Floridian the power to fight back against deplatforming and allows any person to sue Big Tech companies for up to $100,000 in damages. Today, we level the playing field between celebrity and citizen on social media.”
Florida’s Big Tech Bill gives every Floridian the power to fight back against deplatforming and allows any person to sue Big Tech companies for up to $100,000 in damages. Today, we level the playing field between celebrity and citizen on social media. https://t.co/SOW6DZZT2K
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 24, 2021
Leftists who have enjoyed the social media censoring of conservatives will argue that the new law will run counter to Section 230 of the Telecommunications Decency Act which removes liability for platforms as opposed to publishers over what people say on their websites. 230 allows platforms to create terms of service agreements that users must agree to when they sign up. Those terms of service are used to police their communities. The problem is the policing is supposed to be against things that would be found offensive by the general community and the tech tyrants used their terms of service to harass, censor, and ultimately deplatform conservatives they didn’t like posting on their platforms. That is not in the spirit of Section 230 and it makes them a publisher.
For example, I can’t write one of my stories and publish it on the New York Times website. The New York Times gets to decide what is published on their news site. That’s why they have a liability that could bring lawsuits if they publish something that is defamatory or dishonest. I know, [Insert Joke Here], right? The point is when social media sites start twisting their own rules to target specific types of users (conservatives), who haven’t posted anything illegal or what would be considered harassment or a violation of someone’s rights, they are not living up to the spirit of the very rule that gives them immunity from liability for what their users might post.
Let’s hope more red states follow suit to protect their citizens from having their Free Speech rights trampled on by tech tyrants who seem to serve as a cudgel service for the Democratic Party.
Here is the bill Governor DeSantis signed.
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 7072 to hold Big Tech accountable by driving transparency and safeguarding Floridians’ ability to access and participate in online platforms.
“This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
“What we’ve been seeing across the U.S. is an effort to silence, intimidate, and wipe out dissenting voices by the leftist media and big corporations. Today, by signing SB 7072 into law, Florida is taking back the virtual public square as a place where information and ideas can flow freely. Many of our constituents know the dangers of being silenced or have been silenced themselves under communist rule. Thankfully in Florida we have a Governor that fights against big tech oligarchs that contrive, manipulate, and censor if you voice views that run contrary to their radical leftist narrative,” Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez said.
“I’m pleased to see Florida setting the example by doing everything in our power to stop the abuses that are possible when big tech goes unchecked. People have a right to express opposing views. This good bill protects candidates for elected office, media outlets and others from unfair and arbitrary discrimination on social media platforms. Thank you, Governor DeSantis and Speaker Sprowls, for your leadership on this important issue,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson.
“Social media platforms have morphed into the town square,” said Speaker Chris Sprowls. “If our democracy is going to survive, we must stand up to these technological oligarchs and hold them accountable. This legislation protects the free speech of Floridians and demands transparency. No more secret algorithms, inconsistent standards, shadow banning, and de-platforming. In Florida, sunshine is the best disinfectant – and it’s time we bring these big tech monopolies out of the dark. I applaud Governor Ron DeSantis, President Simpson, and the Senate for taking action while our federal government idly sits by and congratulate Commerce Chairman Blaise Ingoglia for carrying this in the House.”
“Big Tech has a responsibility to be fair and transparent to all of its users, regardless of our political ideology. Requiring Big Tech to define the behaviors that will lead to someone being de-platformed is a significant victory for free speech and I am grateful for our Governor’s leadership on this issue,” said Senator Ray Rodrigues.
“Day in and day out, our freedom of speech as conservatives is under attack by the “big tech” oligarchs in Silicon Valley. But in Florida, we said this egregious example of biased silencing will not be tolerated. It was an honor carrying this historic piece of legislation for Governor DeSantis to ensure our voices are heard as we safeguard free speech,” said Representative Blaise Ingoglia.
Under SB 7072:
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- All Floridians treated unfairly by Big Tech platforms will have the right to sue companies that violate this law — and win monetary damages. This reform safeguards the rights of every Floridian by requiring social media companies to be transparent about their content moderation practices and give users proper notice of changes to those policies, which prevents Big Tech bureaucrats from “moving the goalposts” to silence viewpoints they don’t like.
- The Attorney General of Florida can bring action against technology companies that violate this law, under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If social media platforms are found to have violated antitrust law, they will be restricted from contracting with any public entity. That “antitrust violator” blacklist imposes real consequences for Big Tech oligopolies’ bottom line.
- Big Tech is prohibited from de-platforming Floridian political candidates. The Florida Election Commission will impose fines of $250,000 per day on any social media company that de-platforms any candidate for statewide office, and $25,000 per day for de-platforming candidates for non-statewide offices. Any Floridian can block any candidate they don’t want to hear from, and that is a right that belongs to each citizen — it’s not for Big Tech companies to decide.
Rich is a conservative syndicated opinion writer and owner of Maga-Chat.com. He writes about politics, culture, liberty, and faith.
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