Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced a major push to curb Big Tech’s political bias and censorship today, with measures including a ban on the censorship of political candidates and mandatory opt-outs of content filters for citizens of the Sunshine State.
In a 45-minute speech, the governor identified Big Tech companies as the leading threat to American democracy and freedom of expression today, and pledged that Florida Republicans would take action.
The new regulations announced by DeSantis include:
- Mandatory opt-outs from big tech’s content filters, a solution to tech censorship first proposed by Breitbart News in 2018.
- A private right of action for Floridian citizens against tech companies that violate this condition.
- Fines of $100,000 per day levied on tech companies that suspend candidates for elected office in Florida from their platforms.
- Daily fines for any tech company “that uses their content and user-related algorithms to suppress or prioritize the access of any content related to a political candidate or cause on the ballot.”
- Greater transparency requirements.
- Disclosure requirements enforced by Florida’s election authorities for tech companies that favor one candidate over another.
- Power for the Florida attorney general to bring cases against tech companies that violate these conditions under the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.
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.
At a press conference earlier today, DeSantis highlighted the importance of the issue.
“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,” said DeSantis.
“These platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives. Consequently, these platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections, and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent from orthodoxies favored by the Big Tech cartel.”
DeSantis accused the tech giants of “clear viewpoint discrimination,” highlighting the censorship of Donald Trump and the removal of Parler from the internet and Apple and Google-controlled app stores.
“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? No group of people should exercise such power, especially not tech billionaires in Northern California.”