Two technology -level groups supported by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter among others, on Thursday challenged the constitutionality of a new Florida law, SB 7072, which prohibits social media companies from damning state political candidates and establishing a right for citizens to sue. platform moderation decisions.
SB 7072 [PDF] ay signed in law on Monday by Florida Republican Party Gov. Ron DeSantis, who seemed to suppress content moderation actions that “discriminate in favor of Silicon Valley’s dominant ideology.” It began with the suspension of former President Trump’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for inciting violence during the insurrection on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol.
The law, which contains an exception for theme park operators so as not to disturb the two influential political companies operating in the state – The Walt Disney Company and Universal Studios owner Comcast – was immediately killed. of United States Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) as unconstitutional.
“Following Donald Trump’s leadership, Republican-led states are determined to pass laws to force websites and apps to host lies, misinformation and other slime, with full knowledge that the those laws are unconstitutional, ”Wyden said in a statement.
“The latest such example outside Florida – forcing online sites to host politicians’ speeches – is particularly heavy -handed, and an invitation for extremists, racists and liars to register as political candidates. just to keep their posts online. “
Wyden said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clarifies that states cannot force private companies to host speech, especially from politicians. The First Amendment only covers government control of speech.
NetChoice and the Computer and Community Development Association (CCIA), which represents a dozen technology companies, made the same argument in their complaint [PDF] Challenging the law.
“[T]He acts on nearly every content moderation judgment that a covered State regulatory control service can make, placing those judgments on heavy new obligations, restrictions, and the ever-present threat of government action or private enforcement, “the complaint said.” The law thus threatens that not only the types of experiences and communities can offer those services, but also how they primarily work. “
Advocacy groups said the same: “The draconian Florida ‘deplatforming’ law, SB 7072, is a sadly misguided attempt to punish social media platforms to influence their content moderation decisions,” said the Center for Democracy and Technology. “This makes it effectively impossible to combat misinformation, incitement to violence, and hate speech.”
NetChoice and the CCIA argue that the law, which its supporters set out as a defense against censorship (which U.S. law does illegal for the government but permitted for private artists), simply makes the State judge of online conduct, which violates the Constitution. And two groups are fighting the law that violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection clause by favoring Disney and Comcast because they own theme parks.
“The law is crony capitalism that pretends to be consumer protection,” Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel of NetChoice told a statement. “Our lawsuit will stop the state of Florida’s attempt to violate the First Amendment and force social media sites to carry offensive and dangerous political messages.”
Szabo said the lawsuit challenges SB 7072 as an effort to differentiate between some companies and prefer businesses like Disney and Comcast.
Via Twitter, Eric Goldman, professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law, mentioned the filing of “expected lawsuit against Florida’s unconstitutional social media platform law” and said, “I hope the courts have cleared the legislature for wasting everyone’s time and money.” ®
Speaking of social media … The Biden administration has sumenyas it wants the U.S. government to continue collecting online handles from visa applicants.