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Federal lawsuit filed against Florida's new social media law

Group representing multiple tech giants filed suit
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Posted at 3:33 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 14:11:13-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Computer and Communications Industry Association, which counts Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook, Intel and Twitter, have co-filed a lawsuit in a Florida federal court against Governor Ron DeSantis’ new social media law.

The CCIA co-filed the suit with NetChoice. The groups said Florida’s law, the “Stop Social Media Censorship Act,” would “open digital services that allow third-party content to lawsuits when they enforce terms or policies designed to keep users safe” and that it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Florida’s law came after months of complaints from conservatives about the suspension of former President Donald Trump’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook and other services. The private companies said Trump, and others who have been removed from the services, violated rules/terms of service and that’s what forced their hands.

Specifically, the lawsuit said Florida's social media law, "infringes on the rights to freedom of speech, equal protection, and due process protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution."

It went further saying, "The Act is a frontal assault on the First Amendment and an extraordinary intervention by the government in the free marketplace of ideas that would be unthinkable for traditional media, booksellers, lending libraries, or newsstands," and called the new law, "so rife with fundamental infirmities that it appears to have been enacted without any regard for the Constitution."

Matt Schurers, president of the CCIA said the new law is "more characteristic of last-century dictatorships than 21st-century democracies.”

For his part, Governor DeSantis blasted “Silicon Valley elites” in a statement when he signed the law.

“This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites,” DeSantis said at the time. “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”

In addition to the constitutional challenges, the lawsuit challenged the law under the recently controversial Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The suit said the new social media law, "exceeds the State of Florida's authority under the Constitution's Commerce Clause and is preempted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act."

Read the full lawsuit below: