Two tech trading groups filed a lawsuit against Florida on Thursday over a new law that would fine social media companies that ban political candidates, who they say violated freedom of expression rights.
The lawsuit, which said the bill signed Monday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was unconstitutional, was filed by Internet pressure groups NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA). Group members include Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Google.
“We cannot stand idly by as Florida lawmakers introduce unconstitutional laws that bring us closer to the state media and the state-run Internet,” said NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo. “The First Amendment protects the right of social media platforms to host and moderate content they deem appropriate for their business models and users.”
Republican DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said the governor’s office had no comment on any specific lawsuits, but had anticipated legal challenges and is confident the legislation has a “solid legal basis.”
“Great computer company it is in some ways more powerful than the government and certainly less responsible. Freedom of speech is a sacred right for all Americans, ”he said.
Former Republican President Donald Trump continues to be blocked on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube after platforms banned or suspended him for risk of further violence following the January 6 U.S. Capitol assault by some of his supporters. The ban was added to long-standing accusations by Republicans that online platforms censor content because of anti-conservative bias.
Florida is the first state to regulate the way social media companies moderate online speech. The new law will also make it easier for the Florida Attorney General and other people in the state to sue tech companies for claims that the platforms have imposed content moderation on users unfairly or inconsistently.
Internet law experts have criticized it as unconstitutional and as passed in Article 230, a federal law that protects online businesses from liability for content posted by users.
The law exempts companies that own and operate a “theme park or recreation site” of more than 25 acres, such as Disneystate theme park.