Florida’s big tech censorship bill clears second committee

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File) (Matt Rourke, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Legislation seeking to increase transparency in big tech and fight back against social media censorship is moving quickly through the Florida House after it cleared its second committee stop Monday.

Republicans believe conservatives are being unfairly targeted by big tech censorship, but Democrats argue the GOP-sponsored legislation is a response to former President Donald Trump’s de-platforming from Twitter and Facebook.

“I think that everybody should, at least if we’re being intellectually honest, be able to agree that yeah, there is a double standard here,” State Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, said.

Burgess is sponsoring legislation that would require social media companies to inform users why their accounts were blocked or disabled within 30 days of action being taken on the accounts.

“The notice is provided to the user, no matter who they are or what they do and you know, just to let them know why,” he said.

A similar bill in the House goes much further, requiring social media companies to publish standards for censoring users on their sites and apply them in a consistent manner.

The legislation would also create a cause of action, allowing Floridians to sue if they feel they were wrongly banned, and it imposes fines on companies that censor political candidates.

“This is a distraction bill,” State Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Hollywood.

Jenne believes the bill is a direct rebuttal to former President Trump’s de-platforming on popular social networks.

“You know, ‘We are owning the libs.’ If that’s your main policy thrust, the state’s in really bad shape moving forward,” Jenne said.

Theoretically, the legislation could apply to the former president, who is a Florida resident, but Gov. Ron DeSantis said he had not discussed the legislation with Trump.

The bill would impose a $100,000/day fine on social media platforms for de-platforming statewide candidates and a $10,000/day fine for all other Florida candidates.

The bill has one more committee stop left in the House before a floor vote.

The Senate version of the bill has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.