(USA Features) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation that allows residents to sue big tech social media companies if they are censored or banned.
The measure, which is the first of its kind in the country, was backed by free speech advocates and people who have been banned from the platforms, many of whom were in attendance when the Republican governor signed the measure at Florida International University.
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He said that courts will be able to award Floridians up to $100,000 in damages for every proven claim.
“We will be the first state to hold Big Tech accountable,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “They are exerting a power that really has no precedent in American history.”
The state’s attorney general can also bring action against the social media companies for alleged violations of Florida’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
During the ceremony, DeSantis discussed some examples of social media users being deplatformed, adding, “2021 looks more like the fictitious ‘1984,’” a prophetic book about the evolution of bid, intrusive government written by George Orwell and published in the late 1940s.
The law also blocks big tech companies from banning or censoring Florida politicians.
“SB 7072 is a bold first step to reining in Big Tech tyranny by defending the rights of all Floridians in the digital space,” said DeSantis. “Over the years, these platforms have changed from neutral platforms that provide Americans with the freedom to speak to enforcers of preferred narratives.”
“Florida is the first state to hold Big Tech accountable by empowering each and every Floridian silenced by arbitrary corporate censorship to fight back,” he added. “This is a groundbreaking bill that protects Floridians from Silicon Valley’s power grab.”