The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FSHCC) is pushing back against legislation signed by the Governor on Monday.
Holding a press conference at Florida International University, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a measure (SB 7072) that cracks down on Silicon Valley and blocks Big Tech from censoring politicians from their platforms. A top priority for DeSantis during the 2021 Legislative Session, the new law gives the Florida Elections Commission the power to fine media companies up to $250,000 a day for “de-platforming” any candidate for statewide office and $25,000 per day for de-platforming candidates for non-statewide offices.
“If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable,” DeSantis said before signing the bill into law.
Lauded by many who say it protects free speech, the legislation was in response to social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, censoring specific political candidates and conservative viewpoints.
During the signing, DeSantis pointed to former President Donald Trump‘s January suspension from social media, noting that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was still allowed on Twitter’s platform.
“When you de-platform the president of the United States but you let Ayatollah Khamenei talk about killing Jews, that is wrong,” DeSantis said to a standing ovation.
Despite Florida voters supporting efforts to limit the power and influence of technology companies, the signing is receiving backlash from several who claim the new law is ‘unconstitutional.’
The FSHCC, which supports businesses’ ability to make decisions for their company, said in a press release that business thrives best when it, not the government, dictates business operations.
“The Transparency in Technology Act compels businesses to host speech that contradicts the terms and agreements to which users agree – which legal and First Amendment experts have claimed is unconstitutional,” said President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Julio Fuentes. “In the same way that a grocery store can turn customers away for not wearing shoes or shirts in their store, social media companies have the right to turn users away for violating their rules.”
Additionally, FSHCC says they worry punishing Big Tech for their efforts to foster a positive online experience for all could inherently hurt the businesses that rely on their tools.
The law takes effect on July 1. Experts, however, warn that it violates private companies’ First Amendment rights.