Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation protecting Floridians from big tech censorship, propaganda, and election interference.
“Florida, yet again, is the trailblazer on another issue that is really important to not just Floridians, but tens of millions of Americans,” DeSantis said before signing Senate Bill 7072 in front of a crowd of supporters at Florida International University in Miami.
“On major issues that deserve robust debate, Silicon Valley has been acting as a council of censors,” the Florida governor said. “They cancel people—when [cancel] mobs come after people they will pull them down, they shadow ban people which created partisan echo chambers, and honestly, they are some of the major reasons why this country is divided for doing what they are doing.”
“And the worst part about this, Silicon Valley thinks they know better than you. So their power up to this point has effectively been unchecked and they have used this power to impose their orthodoxies and their ideology on our public square. This is not how a free society should operate,” he added.
DeSantis argued that Big Tech platforms have has gone from being liberating free speech forces, to being “enforcers of orthodoxy” whose main mission is “the suppressing of ideas that are either inconvenient to the narrative, or which they personally disagree with.”
The governor cited as examples how Big Tech oligarchs censored news that contradicted the “Blue Anon” media’s prevailing narratives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Two of the major issues when people look back on this period will be the efficacy of coronavirus lockdowns, and the origin of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China,” he explained.
“Now we have information that this very well may have emanated from the Wuhan lab,” DeSantis continued. “If you remember, when people were last year raising that as something that needed to be investigated, they were deplatformed for talking about the lab leak,” the governor said. “They were censored for having said that, and now even Fauci admits that this may be something that may very well be the case.”
DeSantis pointed out that Big Tech shuts down any debate that challenges the corporate media’s preferred narrative.
“Because corporate media said this was a conspiracy theory at the outset, these big tech oligarchs responded to that … instead of having an honest debate about something’s that very, very important,” he said. “It’s a crucial, crucial thing for the American people to know, and Big Tech wanted to shut down debate over that.”
As the other example, DeSantis noted how Big Tech came down on anyone who was critical of the lockdowns on their platforms one year ago.
“They were censored, but now we stand here and look at Florida—we’re open and people flock here because they understand that it’s better to live in freedom,” he said.
DeSantis argued that the places that locked down with policies advocated by Silicon Valley suffered grievous economic impacts, as well as higher per capita Covid mortality.
“I would say those lockdowns have ruined millions and millions of peoples’ lives all over this country. Wouldn’t it have been good to have had a full debate on that in our public square?” he argued. “This is a big problem, we don’t even need to get into the election interference that we see from Silicon Valley, the governor added.
The bill was designed to hold Big Tech accountable by forcing transparency and safeguarding the peoples’ ability to access and participate in online platforms.
“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,” said DeSantis. “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,” he said.
Under SB 7072 Floridians who believe they have been treated unfairly by Big Tech platforms will have the right to sue companies that violate the law — and win monetary damages.
This reform safeguards the rights of every Floridian by requiring social media companies to be transparent about their content moderation practices and give users proper notice of changes to those policies, which prevents Big Tech bureaucrats from “moving the goalposts” to silence viewpoints they don’t like.
The Attorney General of Florida can bring action against technology companies that violate this law, under Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If social media platforms are found to have violated antitrust law, they will be restricted from contracting with any public entity. That “antitrust violator” blacklist imposes real consequences for Big Tech oligopolies’ bottom line.
Big Tech is prohibited from de-platforming Floridian political candidates. The Florida Election Commission will impose fines of $250,000 per day on any social media company that de-platforms any candidate for statewide office, and $25,000 per day for de-platforming candidates for non-statewide offices. Any Floridian can block any candidate they don’t want to hear from, and that is a right that belongs to each citizen — it’s not for Big Tech companies to decide.
“We are protecting Floridians ability to speak, and express their opinions,” DeSantis said. “This will lead to more speech, not less speech because speech that is inconvenient to the narrative will be protected, whereas it doesn’t have those protections going on now.”
Newsbusters’ Curtis Houck on Twitter highlighted a particularly fun moment from the Q&A after the press conference.
Straight FIRE -> @GovRonDeSantis absolutely destroyed this Miami Herald reporter after she asked whether the state's censorship law was created "for" former President Trump.
"When you deplatform [Trump] but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong." pic.twitter.com/afuMN8FjC2
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) May 24, 2021
James O’Keefe, who, along with several Republican Florida legislators, was featured on the stage next to DeSantis during the signing ceremony, announced on Facebook Monday afternoon that he will be breaking news tonight with new undercover video featuring two Facebook insiders.
“On the same day we are set to release two whistleblowers inside Facebook, I was proud to stand next to Governor Ron DeSantis as he signed SB7072, a Florida law against tech censorship,” O’Keefe said. “Tonight at 8 p.m. we show you why this bill is so important. Veritas is set to release secret documents inside Facebook showing Silicon Valley executives will censor information they admit are “actually true events or facts,” in order to protect their narrative and advance their political orthodoxy. They do all of this without your knowledge, until now. Usually I don’t get behind legislation, but this is different. This is about something too fundamental. This is about retaking the public square.”