Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is quickly emerging as the most popular Governor among Republicans in the United States of America. His latest move signing a bill to put a check on Big Tech is another feather in his cap. While the law is sure to be challenged in Court, it is still a significant step in the war against Big Tech.
The law has several provisions to curb the power of censorship that Big Tech wields. Among other things, the law forbids platforms from banning or deprioritizing politicians and news outlets. Users must be notified of moderation actions and platforms must be transparent about the decisions they have taken.
The punishment for non-compliance could be as high as $250,000 per day in some cases. If a candidate running for statewide office is banned for without giving them 30-days prior notice, the platforms would be fined $250,000 per day while the figure for any other office is $25,000 per day.
The Florida Governor said in a statement, “Big Tech is prohibited from de-platforming Floridian political candidates. The Florida Election Commission will impose fines of $250,000 per day on any social media company that de-platforms any candidate for statewide office, and $25,000 per day for de-platforming candidates for non-statewide offices. Any Floridian can block any candidate they don’t want to hear from, and that is a right that belongs to each citizen — it’s not for Big Tech companies to decide.”
The Governor also said that courts can award up to $100,000 in damages for each proven claim. Ron DeSantis said that social media platforms “use secret algorithms and shadow banning to shape debates and control the flow of information.” “But yet they evade accountability by claiming they’re just neutral platforms, even as they amplify partisan agendas and censor dissent. Every day, they act as the proverbial Big Brother, and 2021 looks an awful lot like the fictitious 1984.”
However, there are others who believe that it violates the First Amendment Rights of social media platforms and is constitutionally untenable. Federal law Section-230 protects the social media platforms from being liable for the content published by users. The rule empowers platforms to remove content as per their own choice.
Ultimately, the matter will be settled in the Courts. Recently, social media platforms participated in an orchestrated campaign to deter Donald Trump from being reelected as President. They blocked news reports that showed Joe Biden in poor light. Given such circumstances, there has been a clamour among Republicans to regulate Big Tech.
A similar battle is also underway in India where Twitter is openly meddling with the internal politics of our country. The platform labeled tweets on the Congress toolkit by BJP politicians as ‘manipulated media’ even as investigations into the matter are currently underway. The Indian Government has objected to the same saying that it is an attempt to influence investigations by relevant authorities. But it has fallen on deaf ears.