Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill on Monday to stop Big Tech companies from deplatforming political candidates, including by imposing significant fines on social media providers found guilty of the practice.
Today, Floridians are being guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley power grab on speech, thought, and content. We the people are standing up to tech totalitarianism with the signing of Florida’s Big Tech Bill. https://t.co/cDewFJiEPk
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 24, 2021
“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,” DeSantis said, according to WTXL-TV.
“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,” the governor added.
The bill’s text prohibits social media platforms “from willfully deplatforming a candidate” and “provid[es] fines for violations.”
It also “provid[es] requirements for public contracts and economic incentives related to entities that have been convicted or held civilly liable for antitrust violations”; “provid[es] that social media platforms that fail to comply with specified requirements and prohibitions commit an unfair or deceptive act or practice”; and “authoriz[es] the Department of Legal Affairs to investigate suspected violations under the Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and bring specified actions for such violations,” among other provisions.
The bill also implements strong penalties against social media platforms caught in violation of the law — a fine of “$250,000 per day for a candidate for statewide office and $25,000 per day for a candidate for other offices.”
The Verge reported, “The law wouldn’t apply to temporary social media bans on a candidate, and wouldn’t apply to instances where a platform removes specific posts that violate that platform’s terms of service.”
The outlet added, “But any social media ban that lasts longer than 60 days would result in a fine, and, the platforms would have to make available to users any content the candidate posted before their account became inactive.”
Bill sponsor and Republican state Sen. Ray Rodrigues said last month that “big tech is not a free market” and that the state has a role in regulating such companies, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“When the battle is between a monopoly on one side and hard-working Americans on the other, the right side of history has always been on the side of the people,” Rodrigues said.
“It has never been on the side of the monopolies, not in this country,” he said.
Not everyone is pleased with the new legislation.
Critics have referred to the bill as the “Donald Trump Bill,” according to WTXL.
“The Florida Legislature has decided to put politics over policy with the passage of SB 7072. The bill is unconstitutional, arbitrarily exempts large Florida-based corporations, and will hurt the citizens of the state,” Robert Callahan, the Internet Association’s senior vice president of state government affairs, said in a statement.
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