A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction blocking the implementation of a controversial crackdown on social media companies that was set to go into effect on Thursday, July 1st. The move prevents the law from going into effect while parties on both sides prepare to argue their respective cases.
Senate Bill 7072, was promoted as a “crackdown” on Big Tech censorship by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and supported by a number of Republican lawmakers. But a number of other conservatives saw the law as a dangerous threat to free speech itself, in that it gave the government the power to regulate the speech of private corporations.
“This decision upholding the Constitution and federal law is encouraging, and reaffirms what we have been saying: Florida’s statute is an extraordinary overreach, designed to penalize private businesses for their perceived lack of deference to the Government’s political ideology,” said Matt Schruers, President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The court’s ruling is a win for internet users and the First Amendment.”
But DeSantis and other Republicans in Florida argue that some of the largest social media companies abuse their vast power by aggressively censoring content and disproportionately target certain political viewpoints they don’t agree with.
“Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela,” said DeSantis in a written statement when he signed the bill into law last month. “If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”
The lawsuit, filed jointly by NetChoice and CCIA, seeks to overturn the law on several grounds, including that it interferes with a media platform’s editorial judgment, compels speech, and prohibits speech in violation of the first amendment.
“This order protects private businesses against the State’s demand that social media carry user posts that are against their community standards, said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice. “Even better, it lets social media provide high-quality services to their users while keeping them safe from the worst content posted by irresponsible users.”