CCIA Expresses Concern Over Florida Proposal to Regulate Internet Content Sites

BY Heather Greenfield
March 24, 2015

Washington – This week Florida legislators are considering proposals that could undermine core principles that have helped keep the Internet open and free.  They would force website owners and operators to publicly display their name, address, and telephone number or e-mail address if they make available commercial recordings or audiovisual works, and failure to do so would result in liability that would circumvent important safe harbors crucial to the success of the Internet.

HB 271 and SB 604 would also permit legal attacks against intermediaries that are not before a court, resulting in site-blocking orders similar to those contemplated in the ill-fated ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) and ‘PROTECT IP Act’ (PIPA) — legislation Congress rejected in 2012 after an unprecedented wave of public opposition.

The following can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black:

“The important legal and business equilibrium created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act should not be overruled by States.  That law’s safe harbors have been essential to a thriving Internet industry in the United States.  Not only will this effort breed regulatory uncertainty, but it will invite constitutional litigation.  This misguided effort comes at a time when the U.S. government and industry are struggling to restrain multi-faceted limits on Internet freedom by less noble and authoritarian governments who are constantly trying to suppress anonymous online speech.  Effective uniform national tools exist to address these issues; the Florida legislature need not and should not reinvent the wheel.

“Florida legislators may not recall the unprecedented national grassroots uprising in response to the similar SOPA and PIPA proposals in 2012.  The public has resoundingly rejected legislative efforts to draft online services into policing Internet content through site-blocking.”

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