Governor Ron DeSantis wants to set penalties and allow the state and members of the public to file lawsuits against five tech giants he says are imposing arbitrary, monopolistic rules mostly focused on the discourse of Republicans.
According to the governor, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon control the narrative of online content. He contends those firms could disable or suspend a political candidate’s account in the run up to an election.
Twitter and Amazon are bearing the brunt of DeSantis’ ire – the former for banning former President Donald Trump from its site. The latter for dropping the app for the right-wing Parler site.
“These platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provided Americans with the freedom to speak, to enforcers of preferred narratives. Consequently, these platforms have played an increasingly decisive role in elections and have negatively impacted Americans who dissent.”
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, believes federal hearings are needed about the policies of big tech companies. But she also calls Tuesday’s actions by DeSantis and GOP legislative leaders strictly political.
“Where the governor and the Republican leadership is today is more so as a kneejerk reaction, and for politicking, and not over policy. We need to be looking at the policy of big tech companies.”
DeSantis says one measure could be a $100,000-a-day fine for each day a candidate is removed from a platform. Another would require technology companies’ promotion of candidates to be recorded as campaign contributions.
Tech companies could also be prohibited from blocking or partially blocking posts by or about political candidates, a practice known as shadow banning.
The exact legislation was still being developed as of Tuesday. When ready, it will emerge as a proposed committee bill from House Commerce.