DeSantis, a Republican, signed the anti-Big Tech bill on Monday, aiming to reduce online censorship and prevent social media companies from removing political candidates from their platforms.
NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, who described the law as a “frontal assault on the First Amendment,” sued on Thursday, asking a judge to block the measure from taking effect on July 1.
The trade groups also called the measure a “smorgasbord of constitutional violations” that would prevent technology companies from moderating content on their platforms.
“The act discriminates against and infringes the First Amendment rights of these targeted companies, which include plaintiffs’ members, by compelling them to host — and punishing them for taking virtually any action to remove or make less prominent —- even highly objectionable or illegal content, no matter how much that content may conflict with their terms or policies,” the 70-page lawsuit reads, which was filed in federal court in Tallahassee.
DeSantis’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit itself but more generally defended the law.
“This law is within that authority to rein in a powerful entity that oversteps individuals’ free speech rights,” Christina Pushaw, DeSantis’s press secretary, said in a statement reported by CNN. “We have no comment on any specific lawsuit, but we anticipated legal challenges. We are confident that this new legislation has a strong legal basis and protects Floridians’ constitutional rights.”
Some critics, including conservatives, say the bill is unconstitutional and would turn social media platforms into dangerous places for online content.
“This bill abandons conservative values, violates the First Amendment, and would force websites to host antisemitic, racist, and hateful content,” Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, told the Washington Examiner.
The Florida governor championed the law as a way to keep large technology companies from silencing voices it disagrees with. DeSantis and other supporters described it as a wall against a “Silicon Valley power grab,” a local FOX affiliate reported.
The law also forces social media companies to provide users with notice seven days before they are likely to be banned and give them a chance to alter their behavior and resolve the issue. The bill passed the Republican-led Florida state Legislature in April.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Computer & Communications Industry Association but did not immediately receive a response.