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Federal judge blocks Florida social media censorship bill

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCJB) - A federal judge blocked Florida’s new law that takes aim at big tech just hours before it would have gone into effect.

The 57-page ruling essentially found every part of the law likely violated the first amendment.

Social media companies would have been subjected to new transparency and content moderation restrictions and could have faced civil suits and daily fines for violations under the law.

The judge said all of those requirements likely violated social media companies’ first amendment right to curate their platforms.

“This ruling was great, not only for social media platforms, but for Florida citizens who don’t have to be subjected to a host of lawful, but awful content,” said NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo.

Governor Ron DeSantis told us last week an initial defeat was expected.

RELATED STORY: Florida and Big Tech face off in Federal Court over social media censorship

He anticipates a lengthy court battle.

“It will be appealed either way. Whatever that disposition is, one that will either vindicate what we did, or potentially give us a road map. And say, okay if you don’t like what we did, what would we need to do to tweak it?” said DeSantis.

But in this ruling at least, the judge provided little guidance for legislators to learn from, declaring not only did the entire law likely violate the constitution, but that the goal of law did not serve the public interest.

“The court’s ruling makes clear that trying to force private sector actors to be more fair in what speech they permit or do not permit in their forums is simply not a legitimate government purpose,” said Matt Schruers, President of the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

In a statement the Governor’s office said it was disappointed in the ruling and plans to immediately appeal the decision.

“Governor DeSantis continues to fight for freedom of speech and against Big Tech’s discriminatory censorship,” said DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw.

The case is now expected to head to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, from there, the Governor has speculated the fate of the law will ultimately lie in the hands of the US Supreme Court.

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