Tech groups slap DeSantis with lawsuits over social media bill

Tech groups slap DeSantis with lawsuits over social media bill
Ron DeSantis speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Gage Skidmore
Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 response will doom his chances of becoming president: leading Florida Democrat

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) efforts to crack down on social media censorship are being challenged by two technology groups. According to Politico, the groups have filed a lawsuit against the governor's controversial bill aiming to expand censorship.

On Thursday, May 27, the lawsuit, filed in a Tallahassee federal court by NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, described Republican lawmakers anti-Big Tech bill as "an unconstitutional infringement on free speech." DeSantis, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, and several of the state's other officials were also named in the suit.

"Americans everywhere should oppose Florida's attempt to run roughshod over the First Amendment rights of private online businesses," said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice. "By weakening the First Amendment rights of some, Florida weakens the First Amendment rights of all."

Under the anti-Big Tech bill, tech companies would be required to publicize the criteria they incorporate to ban users. It also grants the Florida Elections Commission the power to impose hefty fines on social media companies for "banning political candidates, among other things." Those fines could total up to $250,000, the publication reports.

According to DeSantis, the bill became a priority for him following former President Donald Trump's exile from social media amid the U.S. Capitol riots. Although many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle argue Trump's rhetoric contributed to the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, DeSantis argues otherwise.

"Constitutional protections are not a one-way street," said DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw on Thursday. "On the contrary, there is a delicate balance in ensuring that citizens and businesses alike are protected against government overreach, but also, that all consumers are protected against abusive, discriminatory, and/or deceptive business practices."

However, the lawsuit aims to push back against his perspective.

"The Act is a frontal assault on the First Amendment and an extraordinary intervention by government in the free marketplace of ideas that would be unthinkable for traditional media, booksellers, lending libraries or newsstands," the lawsuit states.

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