Groups call for quick end to Florida social media law


TALLAHASSEE, Florida (NSF) – With the law due to go into effect on July 1, two online industry groups have asked a federal judge to quickly block a measure Governor Ron DeSantis has championed to crack down on major social media platforms.

NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association filed for a preliminary injunction Thursday and requested a “expedited review.” They argue that the law, passed by the legislature in April, would violate First Amendment rights and hurt companies’ efforts to moderate content.

“Unless ordered before it comes into force, the law will jeopardize countless restraint measures taken by these companies on an ongoing basis, categorically preventing them from removing or regulating large amounts of online content. that could be highly objectionable or in violation of their rules. and force them to send millions of new detailed notifications to their users ”, movement mentionned. “The result would be to expose billions of online users, including families and children, to illegal, dangerous and objectionable material and demand fundamental and far-reaching changes in the way complainants’ members operate their businesses. “

The groups filed a lawsuit May 27 in federal court in Tallahassee, three days after DeSantis signed the measure (SB 7072) while describing Florida as a “pioneer.” The case has been referred to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, according to an online filing.

DeSantis has made the issue a priority after his ally, former President Donald Trump, was blocked on Facebook and Twitter after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6. The governor and Republican lawmakers have described the law as protecting free speech.

In part, the measure seeks to ban social media companies from removing political candidates from platforms. Businesses violating the ban could face fines of $ 250,000 per day for applicants statewide and $ 25,000 per day for other applicants.

Additionally, a key piece of the law would require social media companies to publish standards on issues like blocking users and apply the standards consistently. Additionally, customers could take legal action if social media companies break certain parts of the law.

“What we’ve seen in recent years is that internet platforms and social media platforms are no longer truly liberating forces to become executors of orthodoxy,” DeSantis said. “So their main mission or one of their main missions seems to suppress ideas that are either inconvenient to the narrative or with which they personally disagree.”

But the lawsuit and preliminary injunction request argue, in part, that the measure violates First Amendment rights and is politically motivated. The law is designed to appeal to large online platforms, as it applies to businesses with gross annual sales exceeding $ 100 million or that have at least 100 million individual “participants” per month in the business. world.

“Basically, (the bill) reverses the rights of a targeted group of online services to decide what material to display and how that material is to be presented,” said a legal memorandum filed Thursday. “In other words, the law takes away the ability of these private companies to make editorial judgments — a fundamental component of the ‘free speech’ protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, the law is designed to distinguish certain online services for special limits to their speech due to the open hostility of state authorities to their political views and perceived “ideology”. The law is clearly unconstitutional. “

The groups also argue that the measure violates federal law which, according to Thursday’s memorandum, “specifically protects the right of online service providers to engage in” private blocking and filtering of offensive content “and expressly prohibits States adopt conflicting regulations “.

Federal law, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has come under intense scrutiny as the scope and power of online platforms have grown.

Copyright 2021 Florida News Service. All rights reserved.


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