Tuesday, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by legislative leaders to highlight proposed legislation that would increase technology transparency in Florida, particularly as it relates to “Big Tech” firms like Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, and Google.
The Governor was joined at the announcement by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senate President Wilton Simpson, Senator Danny Burgess, and House Commerce Committee Chair Blaise Ingoglia, who has introduced a bill in the Florida House of Representatives entitled, the “Transparency in Technology Act.”
“In Florida, our message to Big Tech is loud and clear,” said Governor DeSantis. “Big Tech companies have long since abdicated the protection of consumers for the pursuit of profit and we can’t allow Floridians’ privacy, voices, or livelihoods be violated or diminished. When it comes to elections, Big Tech shouldn’t be in the business of censoring or de-platforming candidates, but rather, voters should be able to make that choice independently. Floridians should be able to choose which content to consume and which to ignore, because I want to preserve Florida’s rich, diverse public discourse and not allow corporate-owned, content managing outlets to dominate our voices. With the help of our legislative partners, we’re going to stand together and support Floridians and put a stop to Big Tech’s practice of preying on, censoring, and de-platforming consumers.”
“Tech leaders in Silicon Valley should not be the gatekeepers of what information is available to Floridians,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “Governor DeSantis and our legislative leadership are committed to holding big tech accountable for their arbitrary censorship policies.”
Floridians have a right to know how these companies shape what they see and control what they say. The proposed legislation announced Tuesday would aim to require big tech firms to do the following:
- Publish standards used to ban posts, de-platform and shadow ban users.
- Provide equal access for established news organizations and qualified political candidates to reach users free from manipulation by algorithms.
- Stop arbitrarily censoring and/or de-platforming users.
- Give users the power to opt out of algorithms.
“A fundamental understanding of what it means to be an American is that we have equal access to the town square — a place where we can share our thoughts, our ideas and our beliefs with fellow citizens,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls. “The use of mystery algorithms, shadow banning and other deceptive techniques distort the public square like a fun-house mirror, exaggerating our fears and feeding our rage. If democracy is going to survive, we must stand up to these technological oligarchs and demand transparency.”
“Big Tech has a duty to allow different views on their public platforms. No one should be excluded, but let’s be clear, they are targeting conservatives and engaging in political censorship,” said Senate President Wilton Simpson. “While Congress has the full power to make changes to the terrible policy that allows big tech to discriminate, we will do everything in our power to stop the abuses and allow Floridians the right to express their views. Thank you, Governor DeSantis and Speaker Sprowls, for your leadership on this issue.”
“Big Tech should not be allowed to discriminate based on content and ban individuals just because they do not agree with their viewpoint,” said Senator Danny Burgess. “Regardless of a person’s background, political history, religion, race, gender, or any other identifying measure, Twitter and Facebook and others cannot be the sole judge, jury, and executioner of American’s First Amendment rights. For better or for worse, this is the new town square and social media has become a major part of our everyday life and society. The unilateral actions we have seen in recent weeks set a terrifying precedent that must be addressed appropriately. We hear from constituents every day who cannot fathom that this type of blatant political censorship is happening in our country. We are going to do everything we can at the state level to address this issue.”
“Big Tech has a death grip on public discourse, and the Florida House is calling for transparency and accountability once and for all,” said Commerce Committee Chair Blaise Ingoglia. “Whatever we see and what we engage with on social media is whatever the Big Tech giant deems we should be fed. Our proposal will give users the power to understand how they are being manipulated.”