Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law Monday that fines big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook if they block the accounts of political candidates, as they did with former President Donald Trump.
DeSantis, a Republican who is considered a possible presidential candidate for 2024, said the measure was part of the “ fight against censorship by big tech companies. ”
“Many in our state have faced censorship and other dictatorial behaviour in Cuba and Venezuela,” he said, referring to the many Florida voters who come from those countries. “If the big tech companies apply the rules unequally to discriminate in favour of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable,” he stressed.
Donald Trump was banned from Twitter and Facebook for his statements after his supporters raided the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The law called SB 7072, which comes into effect on July 1, provides for fines of up to $ 250,000 per day for platforms that block candidates for a mandate in the state. The law also allows Florida residents who believe they have been treated “unfairly” by tech companies to sue them for financial damages.
The law could be challenged, with civil rights activists calling the law a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment on freedom of expression. “When it comes to freedom of expression, a website is no different from a newspaper: it has the fundamental right to decide which expression to allow and which not to allow on its platform,” said Corbin Barthold of the TechFreedom group.
“Florida is trying to force some major platforms to welcome statements they would otherwise not accept,” added Barthold. He calls the measure ‘unconstitutional’.