Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill today that would allow Florida residents to sue tech platforms if they feel that they are “unfairly censored,” and penalize social media companies that de-platform political candidates in Florida — aiming to impair corporations’ ability to “discriminate in favor of the dominant ideology in Silicon Valley.”
The legislation would allow for the Florida Election Commission to level a $250,000 fine per day on social media companies that de-platform any candidate running for statewide office and $25,000 per day for candidates running for non-statewide office.
The legislation also grants Floridians the right to sue companies that violate the law, and win monetary damages, and it empowers Florida’s attorney general go after these companies for any violations.
The Florida House voted 77-38 in favor of the bill, the Senate, 23-17.
The bill — which is set to take effect beginning in July — would also require companies to give a 30-day warning period before an individual is removed and it would require these companies to publish their standards for blocking and removing users and their content.
“Silicon Valley is acting as a council of censors; they cancel people when mobs come after somebody. They will pull them down,” Governor DeSantis said.
But the law is likely to get challenged in the courts. Critics of the bill, such as Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, have argued the bill would compel speech onto private entities, which would violate the companies’ First Amendment rights.
The most notable person de-platformed from social media sites is former President Donald J. Trump. His ban from social media came after the January 6th sparked debate among lawmakers as to the influence Big Tech companies have on the nation’s conversations.
“This bill is a retaliation for the former presidential administration being banned from social media sites by spreading false information, inciting riots, sedition, and violence,” Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat who sought to kill the legislation, said in April.