Florida Governor Signs Bill Cracking Down On Big Tech: ‘These Platforms Have Become Our Public Square’
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that would hold big tech accountable for discriminating and censoring its users.
At a ceremony held in Miami, he presented the new legislation as the first of its kind in the United States. Here are the bill’s key points:
- 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.
In Florida we are fighting back against big tech censorship. I’m proud to have signed historic legislation protecting Floridians’ freedom of speech. https://t.co/83WRhy9bpQ
— Ron DeSantis (@RonDeSantisFL) May 24, 2021
During the ceremony, the Governor said that Silicon Valley tech companies are now more powerful than early 20th century monopolies and that they have become a new “public square.”
He criticized companies such as Twitter and Facebook for “suppressing ideas that are either inconvenient to the narrative or that they personally disagree with.”
Here is some of what DeSantis had to say:
“When the founding fathers established our country and crafted the Constitution, they were very concerned with threats to liberty primarily emanating from government power, and they believed concentrations of power would inevitably lead to people’s liberties being curtailed. So they designed a constitution that had separation of powers, checks and balances, and it was designed to create a government that could do the things that you needed a government to do, but did it in a way that was as safe as possible and had as many different checks along the way and balances so that you didn’t have an accumulation of power in one part of the government. And I think that they were very smart about that and, obviously, we’ve seen other societies that have not had those protections, the results have inevitably been disastrous.
We are now, though, in a situation where we have things that were probably unforeseen by the founding fathers. Whereas they established a First Amendment to protect people’s freedom of speech, religion, and association from government overreach, we now have a situation in which some of these massive, massive companies in Silicon Valley are exerting a power over our population that really has no precedent in American history, and I would suggest monopolies today, these big tech monopolies are exerting way more influence over our society than the monopolies of the early 20th century which led to antitrust and a lot of trust busting. So we’re in a situation here where these platforms have become our public square.
Floridians and other Americans go on these platforms to be able to share ideas. Heck, you go back to the beginning of these platforms, they actually were very liberating because you had corporate media, those legacy outlets, that many Americans grew to distrust and rightfully so. They no longer had the monopoly on information. You could actually go around the legacy media, share information on these platforms and that was very, very positive for millions and millions of Americans. Actually, it was a little too positive and the powers that be didn’t like that, and so I think what we’ve seen in recent years is a shift away from internet platforms, social media platforms from really being liberating forces to now being enforcers of orthodoxy. And so their primary mission, or one of their primary missions, seems to be suppressing ideas that are either inconvenient to the narrative or that they personally disagree with.”
JUST IN – Florida Gov. DeSantis has just signed a bill into law that would allow everyday Floridians to sue Big Tech Platforms for monetary damages. pic.twitter.com/yeHYG9btEx
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) May 24, 2021
Some fellow politicians also had their say on the matter:
Lieutenant-Governor Jeanette Nuñez said:
“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.”
Senate President Wilton Simpson 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.”
Speaker Chris Sprowls noted:
“Social media platforms have morphed into the town square. 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.”
Senator Ray Rodrigues stressed:
“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.”
Representative Blaise Ingoglia added:
“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.”
For Fox13’s report on the story, please see the video below.
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