Florida OKs Bill to Penalize Social Media Firms That Ban Politicians
To give politicians more freedom online, the Florida House and Senate voted this week to pass legislation that will penalize social media companies banning politicians from their platforms.
Based on the passed bill, which is already heading to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, social media companies would still be allowed to suspend politicians for two weeks and for individual posts to be taken down once they violate the firm's policies.
But the bill states that once the social media companies try to ban politicians from their platforms, there will be a fine of $250,000 per day if the politician has statewide duties, while for other elected officials, the penalty would be $25,000 per day, The Hill reported.
Opponents of the legislature argued that it is unconstitutional. They said that Republicans are only advancing the bill after former President Donald Trump was banned from a number of social media platforms for his alleged continuous spreading of false election conspiracy theories, which ignited the violent Capitol riot.
The Florida Senate approved the bill in a 23-17 vote, while the state's House voted 77-37 to support the bill. Democrats suggested that the bill is politically motivated as the Florida governor is a close ally of Trump.
Many Republicans went outraged when the former president was blocked from most of his social media accounts, the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay reported.
During the debate on S.B. 7072, state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) stated that politicians "need to stop inciting insurrection against their republic."
He said they were hearing this bill because Twitter already de-platformed Trump after five individuals were killed in an insurrection that he allegedly incited at the U.S. Capitol, NBC News reported.
Florida GOP Lawmakers
However, Representative John Snyder (R) responded that the bill is not about Trump. Snyder stressed that the legislation is about 22 million Floridians and their First Amendment rights.
"This bill is about sending a loud message to Silicon Valley that they are not the absolute arbiters of truth... That the Constitution does not have an asterisk that says only certain speech is free and protected," Snyder noted.
A trade group for internet companies, Net Choice, shared during a hearing for the bill that the companies' free speech rights were being violated.
The president of Net Choice, Steve DelBianco, noted that the First Amendment is clear that the government may not regulate private individuals' speech or even businesses.
He said this includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that contradicts its policies or preferences.
But the Florida governor has previously spoken highly regarding the bill. Experts said that DeSantis is expected to sign the bill right away.
People Over Monopoly
Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, the bill's sponsor, pointed to the dominance of a handful of technology companies, such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google. He noted that "big tech is not a free market," and the state has a role in regulating these firms.
Rodrigues said that between the battle of monopoly on one side and hard-working Americans, history has always been on the side of the people. He added that it has never been on the side of monopolies, especially in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the Senate has added an amendment that exempts "any information service, system, internet search engine, or access software provider" operated by a firm that owns and operates a theme park or other large entertainment complex.
WATCH: Florida Bill Aims to Prevent Politicians From Being Banned on Social Media - From NBC2 News
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