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Florida denied extra time to form defense of big tech censorship law

File photo
File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal judge has rejected the state’s request for more time to defend Florida’s new social media censorship law, which takes effect on July 1.

The law carries penalties as high as $250,000 a day for de-platforming political candidates.

In hopes of getting more time to form a defense, the state said it would delay enforcement of the law until Aug. 1.

NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said the state should not have been caught off-guard by the lawsuit.

“The state knew time and time again they were going to be tested on this lawsuit,” Szabo said. “Everything they’re complaining about, they’ve known for months.”

He added the deal proposed by the state didn’t offer much, if any, protection to social media companies.

“The state may delay enforcement, that doesn’t mean they’ll delay accruing the penalties for future enforcement,” said Szabo.

The state’s deal also would have done nothing to prevent a flood of civil litigation from individual users, who could sue if they believe they’re wrongly de-platformed.

“So in short, the state was not offering much and the burdens that the bill creates would still have persisted for our members,” said Matthew Schrues, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association. “The only meaningful relief that we can get at this point is a prompt ruling on the merits that this statute is unconstitutional.”

The judge agreed with the tech companies and denied the state’s request.

Szabo said he’s confident the law will never see the light of day.

“It doesn’t take a rock star to know that this law is unconstitutional and flies in the face of the First Amendment. The state just can’t come down on a private industry and tell them that they have to say something that the state wants you to say,” said Szabo.

A hearing on the tech companies’ request to block the law from taking effect is set for June 28. A ruling is expected before the law’s July 1 implementation date.