Florida Appeals Big Tech Censorship Law to the Supreme Court
A lawsuit over a Florida law limiting Big Tech’s power was appealed to the Supreme Court yesterday.
The law was originally passed and signed by Gov. DeSantis in 2021 and presented as an anti-censorship law. It requires social media companies to host some third-party content they would rather not host and requires disclosure about how and when platforms censor speech and must notify users. DeSantis spoke on the purpose of the bill when he signed it.
“If big tech censors enforce rules inconsistently to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
The legal question now is whether states have the authority to prevent tech companies from hosting content they deem inappropriate. A collection of major tech companies, including Amazon, Tik Tok, and Google, known as NetChoice sued to block the law. Their attorneys say that the censorship law is violative of the First Amendment.
Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, said this in an interview with NewsJax.
“This law represents government compelled speech, which is a gross violation of the First Amendment and likewise it will force websites to host lawful but awful content that we don’t want. Content like abuse of animals, content like child grooming, content like terrorist recruitment.”
The law was already struck down in two other courts; this is the final appeal. Szabo, who identifies as a conservative Republican, said that his position is the true conservative, constitutionally sound argument.
“At the end of the day, conservative principles are centered on letting a private business decide what’s best for its users and its customers. And that’s what the First Amendment says too, ultimately….Is the state of Florida trying to force websites to host content that they don’t want, their users don’t want? And they’re doing what’s best for their business.”
Part of the legal debate seems to stem back to Section 230, a federal law that allows platforms to delete certain content without sacrificing liability immunity for all content posted on their site. Until then, platforms could not screen any content without becoming a publisher and sacrificing their immunity.
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Section 2 of Section says that no internet provider or user (including social media platforms) shall be held liable for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers being obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;”
The clause “otherwise objectionable” has allowed platforms to take down all manners of political speech while maintaining their liability immunity. The “good faith” clause should theoretically guard against this, but it’s been historically ineffective.
Many on Twitter itself Support DeSantis’ law.
I have to give props where props are due, @GovRonDeSantis has and continues to be an effective Governor, and you can't deny it. He fights for the Police, put in place good election laws, sent Law Enforcement to the Border, fights Big Tech, etc.
Not to mention he has led FL red.
— Conservative American Politics (@ConservativeAmP) December 13, 2021
Florida free speech law sees support from 11 states as Alabama joins legal fight against Big Tech https://t.co/PwV0CMECWb #FoxBusiness Good job @GovRonDeSantis Imagine if #desantis were president; how much better off we would be as a nation.
— George Fotion (@homeispv) September 19, 2021
Florida Gov. DeSantis signs law to hold Big Tech companies accountable for content moderation practices https://t.co/DXiNC747k3 #FoxBusiness More good news for citizens of The World -yesterday the police in India raided the offices of @jack -Twitter-involved in nefarious business
— annie (@annie25320275) May 25, 2021
Regardless, the ultimate fate of the law and the final verdict of the now-originalist Supreme Court remains unclear.
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