Florida Adopts Anti-Censorship Bill, First Of Its Kind

Legislative reform in non-Canadian jurisdictions is always useful to inform our choices going forward with our own reforms. Technology transcends jurisdictions, but mostly depends on US laws even when its reach is beyond the USA.

Technology is currently under-regulated, and moves faster than the courts. Any legislative attempt at reducing Big Tech’s power and editorial control over users content is very welcome. Initially, section 230 (Communication Decency Act) meant to do just that, but it has been largely abused by social media platforms and emptied of its substance.

The Florida legislation is to take effect on July 1, 2021 and provides anti-deplatforming safeguards and enhanced data protection mechanisms.

In a nutshell, under SB7072 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.

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. The right to block unwanted users (including candidates) belongs to Floridians and is no longer up to Big Tech in that state.