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Group representing large tech companies files lawsuit against Florida' new social media law

Law allows those banned from social media to sue
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Posted at 2:26 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 14:26:07-04

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

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 websites following the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

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.

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."

"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," the lawsuit reads, adding that it's "so rife with fundamental infirmities that it appears to have been enacted without any regard for the Constitution."

Social media sites like Twitter and YouTube have said Trump and has been blocked from the websites for violating their rules and terms of service. Facebook's Oversight Board, an independent group that presides over content moderation appeals, has asked that social media group to further clarify Trump's current indefinite suspension.

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

For his part, 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:

This story was originally published by Tim Kephart on Scripps station WFTS in Tampa, Florida.