A federal judge is hearing arguments over a new social media law between online-industry groups NetChoice and Computer & Communications Industry Association and the state of Florida.
The online groups, representing Big Tech giants, argue that the new law imposed under Governor Ron DeSantis is unconstitutional.
The new law “is a sweeping attack on core First Amendment rights” of private companies “whose businesses revolve around hosting and presenting speech,” Brian Willen, an attorney who represents the plaintiffs, told U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle during the hearing.
Earlier this year, DeSantis signed a law that would punish social media companies that decide to de-platform individuals or elect to flag their content.
“You cannot treat these massive companies the same way you just treat a local private company down the street,” DeSantis said of the power held by the companies.
The law which could fine companies as much as $250,000 a day is currently scheduled to take effect on July 1. However, tech giants are hoping the judge will prevent the enactment from happening.
“These are huge, huge issues about our society and about how much power should a handful of companies be able to wield with really no accountability whatsoever,” DeSantis added.
The judge presiding over the case has remained skeptical over the practicality and language presented in the law.
“I won’t put you on the spot and ask you if you’ve ever dealt with a statute that was more poorly drafted,” the Judge Robert Hinkle asked of the attorneys supporting the law.
Federal laws limit the authority of individual states to implement laws to regulate various social media companies, so the state may face an uphill battle in its argument against the tech giants.
The move by DeSantis came shortly after most social media companies moved to ban President Donald Trump from their platforms. Facebook has added that Trump will remain banned for at least two years.
“Facebook’s ruling is an insult to the record-setting 75M people, plus many others, who voted for us in the 2020 Rigged Presidential Election. They shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing, and ultimately, we will win. Our Country can’t take this abuse anymore!” Trump said of Facebook’s decision.
Conservatives across the country have repeatedly highlighted efforts by “big tech” to censor content posted on multiple platforms.
Hinkle said he plans to release a ruling before Thursday.
— — —