The bill, which some are calling unconstitutional, proposes fines for companies that ban political candidates.
According to NBC News, the bill has been passed in Florida's Republican-led Legislature, with the House voting 77-38 in favor of the bill; the Senate, 23-17. It is expected to be signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis.
Motivation for the legislation is thought to have come as a result of Twitter's decision to permanently ban former president Donald Trump's account. The social media giant kicked Trump off the site in January, just two days after the Capitol Hill riots, "due to the risk of further incitement of violence."
The ban sparked a discussion around how much power tech companies should have when it comes to deciding who can use their platform, and what they can say.
Governor DeSantis declared in February that he would find a way to fight back against big tech, and this bill seems to be his weapon of choice. According to Florida Politics, in his original speech, DeSantis suggested that companies receive "$100,000 daily fines for 'deplatforming' candidates for office."
The current iteration of the bill has increased that fine to "$250,000 a day for statewide candidates and $25,000 a day for other candidates", reports NBC. They go on to state that companies are required to "provide information about takedowns and apply rules consistently", adding that "suspensions of up to 14 days would still be allowed, and a service could remove individual posts that violate its terms of service."
Critics have called the bill a violation of the First Amendment. President of advocacy group NetChoice Steve DelBianco stated that "The First Amendment makes clear that government may not regulate the speech of private individuals or businesses. This includes government action that compels speech by forcing a private social media platform to carry content that is against its policies or preferences." In his opinion, private companies should have the authority to determine their own policies.
The bill is expected to face a number of legal challenges if it is signed into law by Governor DeSantis.
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