Washington – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has called a special legislative session to ask lawmakers to amend a “social media censorship” law that a Florida judge ruled unconstitutional. The ruling came last year and the case is now on appeal at the Eleventh Circuit, which will hear oral argument next week.
The law would force companies to carry content from all users online including those engaged in fraud or foreign adversaries promoting propaganda, but gave a unique “theme park” carveout for Disney, which Gov. DeSantis now wants to revoke.
Florida lawmakers were warned when they passed the bill that it violated the First Amendment as that protects both the right of individuals and companies to speak or not to be compelled to speak. Defending the law against constitutional challenges has cost Florida taxpayers an estimated $700,000 so far according to documents obtained by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, which successfully challenged the law in court alongside NetChoice. However, the plans to amend the bill would not fix the underlying constitutional problems.
CCIA supports free speech online, which includes the right for private businesses to meet their users’ expectations about what type of material is appropriate for their community.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“If Governor DeSantis had realized sooner that the Internet regulations his own office lobbied for were wrong, he might have saved Floridians hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. But this law is wrong not because the legislature carved out a once-favored Florida company, but because the Government has no business dictating what speech private businesses must host.”