Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has announced a massive crackdown on Big Tech censorship, in a move that has been described as a “game-changer.”
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, DeSantis announced a number of actions that would be taken against Big Tech by his administration, with the focus seemingly more on how Big Tech censorship and interference would effect elections within the state – more general measures were also included however.
Some of the new regulations include a mandatory opt-out from content filters created by Big Tech companies, which can leave users “shadowbanned” without the need for full platform removal, a right of action for all Floridians against Big Tech companies who violated this, and a number of daily fines related to interference in elections, including a $100,000 daily fine levied for any company that suspends political candidates.
DeSantis claimed that the Big Tech companies were the number one threat to democracy and freedom of expression in America:
What began as a group of upstart companies from the west coast has since transformed into an industry of monopoly communications platforms that monitor, influence, and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens, and they do this to an extent hitherto unimaginable. These platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.
“These platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who descend from orthodoxies favored by the big tech cartel,” DeSantis told the gathered reporters. Further actions announced include disclosure requirements to be enforced by state election authorities for any company that favours one candidate, and powers given to the Florida AG to enforce any violations.
The governor higlighted the action taken against Parler, the free speech social media site which was practically removed from the internet by Amazon, and the censorship of President Trump, as evidence that Big Tech companies engaged in “clear viewpoint discrimination” against conservatives.
“The core issue here is this: are consumers going to have the choice to consume the information they choose, or are oligarchs in Silicon Valley going to make those choices for us?” DeSantis said. “No group of people should exercise such power, especially not tech billionaires in Northern California.”
Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari, who authored the seminal book on Big Tech’s efforts to prevent President Trump from winning re-election, described DeSantis’s conference as a “game-changer,” noting that this is “the widest and most aggressive range of regulatory and legislative solutions so far proposed by any U.S. state to tackle the problem of tech censorship.”
– mandatory opt-outs of content filters (I've been saying this is the solution since 2018!)
– daily fines on tech giants that suspend political candidates
– attorney general empowered to prosecute the companies
– private right of action
&more – article soon.
— Allum Bokhari (@LibertarianBlue) February 2, 2021
The move from DeSantis follows a push from multiple Floridian legislators to introduce a proper crackdown on Big Tech companies and their behaviour. As National File reported:
State Rep Anthony Sabatini, known as one of the most America First legislators in the state, introduced Florida HB 33, known as the “Stop Social Media Censorship Act,” which would “allow for a state cause of action (lawsuit) against large social media companies that censor user’s content.”
Any social media site with over 75 million users who deleted the “political or religious” speech of a user, could be sued for damages, a minimum of $75,000 per deleted post, or other forms of relief, and may not use the defence of alleged” hate speech of the user at trial. Speaking exclusively to National File, Rep Sabatini said that this bill will “stop Big Tech from eliminating the public square and choking out conservatives.”
Florida State Representative Randy Fine has been pushing a different tack to fight against Big Tech, in that he has called on Governor Ron De Santis to cut off Floridian taxpayer dollars from going to these companies…
Fine said that he would be further introducing legislation to stop any state or local government within Florida from conducting business with them. This would include a ban on advertising on Facebook or Twitter, no usage of Amazon for shipping parcels or any other purpose, and also a ban on government-issued iPhones or Androids. “They may get to decide who they do business with,” Fine said. “So do we.”
You can watch DeSantis’s full Big Tech press conference below: