Tech Groups File Lawsuit Against New Florida Law Aimed at Big Tech Censorship

May 28, 2021 Updated: May 29, 2021

Two internet trade groups sued Florida on May 27 over a new law that allows Floridians to take legal action against Big Tech platforms if they censor a user’s content without consistent standards.

Big tech companies that violate SB 7072 Social Media Platforms, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, can be brought to trial for monetary damage, and the state’s attorney general can litigate companies that don’t comply with the law under Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association—internet lobbying groups including Facebook, Twitter, and Google—filed suit against the law.

“We cannot stand idly by as Florida’s lawmakers push unconstitutional bills into law that bring us closer to state-run media and a state-run internet,” NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said.

“The First Amendment protects social media platforms’ right to host and moderate content as they see fit for their business models and users.”

“By weakening the First Amendment rights of some, Florida weakens the First Amendment rights of all,” Szabo said, according to Politico.

Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said the governor’s office had no comment on any specific lawsuit but that it had anticipated legal challenges and was confident the legislation had a “strong legal basis.”

“Big Tech is in some ways more powerful than government, and certainly less accountable. Free speech is a sacred right for all Americans,” she said.

DeSantis anticipated that the bill would be challenged, saying “we absolutely anticipate litigation” in an interview with Spectator.

Epoch Times Photo
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mingles with audience after signing into law Senate Bill 7072 at Florida International University in Miami on May 24, 2021. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

“They are exerting a power that really has no precedent in American history,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Monday.

As an example, 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 new bill also prevents Big Tech from banning Floridian political candidates. $250,000 per day in fines would be imposed on social media companies that deplatform candidates for statewide office. The fine is $25,000 per day when deplatforming candidates for other offices.

Up to $100,000 could be paid for 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.

The Epoch Times reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.

Bowen Xiao and Reuters contributed to this report.