Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and several GOP legislative leaders have announced that they will introduce a bill that will punish big tech companies for discriminating against conservatives. The targeted companies include Google, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook, who the GOP leaders believe have too much power over public opinions. DeSantis accused the big tech companies of acting like “Big Brother” and reminded them that this is real life and not George Orwell’s novel 1984.
“Floridians should have the privacy of their data, and personal information protected their ability to access and participate in online platforms protected, and their ability to participate in elections free from interference from big tech protected… These platforms 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,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Following the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol, social media platforms Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s account. DeSantis cited the ban as one of the reasons for pushing forward the legislation. He denied Trump had any role in the Capitol assault. The proposed bill will fine social media companies $100,000 every day they keep a candidate for a public office away from the platform.
Using algorithms to suppress or boost specific political content will be banned. If the platforms promote one candidate over another, the matter must be disclosed to the public as per the state’s campaign contribution transparency requirements. Also, all users will have to be given advance notice before disbarring them from the platform. Should a platform violate any of the rules, Attorney General Ashley Moody will have the right to act against it according to the state’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices law.
Excessive action against Big Tech firms could make such corporations think twice about their operations in the state
James Hines, director for the Internet Association, which acts as a lobbying group for Amazon, Facebook, and Google, is also concerned that the legislation would restrict tech platforms’ ability to combat crimes, including hate speech and violence.
Lyn Millner, a journalism professor at FGCU, does not think that DeSantis’ proposed legislation will pass. Pam Seay, a law professor at the Florida Gulf Coast University, said that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction on such matters. Florida Republicans will have a tough time enacting the legislation.
It isn’t just Republicans who are concerned about the rising power of big tech. Democrat Tulsi Gabbard recently criticized fellow Democrat Adam Schiff from California, former CIA Director John Brennan, and big tech “oligarchs” for censoring Americans post-Jan. 6. She appealed to Biden and Congress members from both parties to protect civil liberties guaranteed under the Constitution. Brennan earlier commented that the Biden administration is moving to uncover “what looks very similar to insurgency movements.”
“The mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 to try to stop Congress from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities were behaving like domestic enemies of our country. But let’s be clear. The John Brennans, Adam Schiffs, and the oligarchs in big tech who are trying to undermine our constitutionally protected rights and turn our country into a police state with KGB-style surveillance are also domestic enemies, and much more powerful and therefore dangerous than the mob that stormed our Capitol,” Tulsi says in a video.