Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 7072 into law on Monday, which seeks to shield Florida citizens, politicians, and the state’s press from Big Tech censorship. This was announced Monday, May 24, at a press conference held at Florida International University in Miami.
“In this session, we are taking steps to ensure that ‘We the People,’ real Floridians across the Sunshine State, have guaranteed protection from Silicon Valley elites,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If big tech censors inconsistently enforce rules to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
In turn, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez commented that what is happening in the United States “is an effort to silence, intimidate and eliminate dissenting voices from the leftist media and big corporations.”
“Today, with the enactment of SB 7072,” Nuñez continued, “Florida is reclaiming the virtual public square as a place where information and ideas can flow freely. Many of our constituents know the dangers of being silenced or have been silenced themselves under a communist regime. Fortunately, in Florida, we have a governor who fights back against the big tech oligarchs who ideologize, manipulate, and censor if you express opinions that go against their radical leftist narrative.”
What’s in SB 7072?
The legislation puts forth a number of provisions that protect citizens, politicians or news companies from censorship by Big Tech.
SB 7072 states that “Social media platforms that unfairly censor, shadow ban, deplatform, or apply post prioritization algorithms to Florida candidates, Florida users, or Florida residents are not acting in good faith” and that “social media platforms must not take any bad faith action to restrict access or availability to Floridians.”
SB 7072 prohibits Big Tech from removing or displacing Florida political candidates. As such, it reserves the right for the Florida Elections Commission to impose fines of $250,000 per day on any social platform company that removes any candidate for statewide office from its media. Likewise, fines of $25,000 per day may be imposed on these companies for a “takedown” applied to candidates for non-statewide office.
“Any Floridian can block any candidate they don’t want to hear from, and that’s a right that belongs to every citizen, not something for the big tech companies to decide,” the governor’s press team said.
Likewise, the law also protects civilians from being deliberately displaced from social platforms. According to the text of SB 7072, a citizen could obtain “Up to $100,000 in statutory damages per proven claim.”
This law would only apply to platforms with more than $100 million in annual revenue and more than 100 million monthly users. This point is relevant, as it leaves out of the provision multiple companies, but it applies to technology giants such as Facebook and Twitter.
The legislation explains that social platforms are the new public squares where citizens express their opinions and, therefore, “Social networking platforms occupy a unique place in preserving First Amendment protections for all Floridians and should be treated similarly to common carriers.”
SB 7072 and the press
SB 7072 has a specific section that protects the media: “A social media platform may not take any action to censure, deplatorm, or shadowban a journalistic enterprise based on the content of its publication or broadcast.”
The law specifies that a journalistic enterprise is “an entity doing business in Florida” and “publishes more than 100,000 words available online with at least 50,000 paid subscribers or 100,000 monthly active users.
A journalistic entity for the law is also those media outlets that publish “100 hours of audio or video available online with at least 100 million viewers annually” or those that operate “a cable channel” under timely outreach parameters set forth in the legislation.
At the press conference held on Monday, in addition to Florida’s governor and state officials, there was also James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, a conservative communications project recently censored by social media platforms.