A federal judge on Wednesday blocked Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis from implementing a law combatting Big Tech censorship that allows citizens to sue over content-moderation policies.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, issued a preliminary injunction in which he sided with two trade associations that argued parts of the law may violate the First Amendment, the Fox Business Network reported.
The trade groups contend the law is unconstitutional because it requires social media sites to host speech they otherwise would not and inteferes with their editorial judgment.
A DeSantis spokesman told the Daily Caller’s Thomas Catenacci that Florida will immediately appeal the ruling.
“We are disappointed by Judge Hinkle’s ruling and disagree with his determination that the U.S. Constitution protects Big Tech’s censorship of certain individuals and content over others,” the spokesman said.
In February, DeSantis announced the law would include a ban on censorship of political candidates and mandatory opt-outs of content filters.
“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,” he said in a speech Feb. 1.
The judge took issue with the fact that the legislation was an effort to rein in providers that were deemed “too large and too liberal.”
“Balancing the exchange of ideas among private speakers is not a legitimate governmental interest,” he said.
See DeSantis’ interview with FBN’s Maria Bartiromo on Big Tech censhorship:
One of the trade associations in the case, NetChoice, said it was “elated” by the ruling.
“America’s judiciary system is designed to protect our constitutional rights, and today’s ruling is no different, ensuring that Florida’s politically motivated law does not force Floridians to endure racial epithets, aggressive homophobia, pornographic material, beheadings, or other gruesome content just to use the internet,” the group said in a statement.
In his February speech, DeSantis said the Big Tech companies “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,” he said.
It’s regarded as the most aggressive range of regulatory and legislative measures against the Silicon Valley giants by a U.S. state.
Among the regulations in the Florida bill:
- Mandatory opt-outs from content filters;
- A private right of action for citizens against tech companies that violate this condition;
- Fines of $100,000 per day on tech companies that suspend political candidates;
- Daily fines for any tech company that uses its “content and user-related algorithms to suppress or prioritize the access of any content related to a political candidate or cause on the ballot”;
- Requirements for greater transparency;
- Disclosure requirements for tech companies that favor one candidate over another;
- And power for the Florida attorney general to sue tech companies that violate the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.
DeSantis noted the censorship of Donald Trump by Twitter, Facebook and others, and the removal of the growing Twitter-alternative Parler from the internet.
“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,” he said.
Content created by the WND News Center is available for re-publication without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact [email protected].
This article was originally published by the WND News Center.