Texas joins coalition supporting Florida ban on massive tech censorship | Florida

(The Center Square) – Texas Attorney General Paxton led a coalition of 10 states in filing an amicus brief at 11. The law, similar to the one just passed by Texas, requires big tech platforms to provide affected users Consistently apply content moderation and disclosure practices.

“Regulation of big tech censorship will inevitably suppress the ideas and beliefs of millions of Americans,” Paxton said. “I will defend the First Amendment and ensure that conservative voices have the right to be heard. Big Tech does not have the authority to monitor the statements of people whose political views they simply do not share. “

Texas includes the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and South Carolina.

The Texas Bill, HB 20, was passed on September 2 by Governor Greg Abbott in a ceremony with drafters Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Briscoe Cain, as well as Sens. Charles Perry, Dawn Buckingham and Angela Paxton.

Abbott added laws to combat censorship on social media to the agenda for the second special session of the Legislature in August. The new law prevents social media companies with more than 50 million monthly users from banning users based on their political views. The law also requires social media channels to implement multiple consumer protection disclosures and processes related to content management on their websites. According to the new law, the social media sites concerned must disclose their guidelines for content management and moderation and initiate a complaint and objection procedure. The new law also prohibits email service providers from hindering the delivery of email messages based on content.

“We will always defend freedom of expression in Texas,” Abbott said. “Social media websites have become our modern public space. It’s a place for healthy public debate, where information should flow freely – but there is a dangerous move by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas. That’s wrong. ”And we won’t allow it in Texas. I thank Senator Bryan Hughes, Rep. Briscoe Cain, and the Texas Legislature for ensuring that House Bill 20 reached my desk during the second special session. “

Florida’s SB 7072 – the law at issue in the appeal – contains provisions similar to those of the Texas HB 20. Its neutrality regulation requires social media platforms to “apply censorship, deplatforming and shadow prohibition standards uniformly among their users on the platform. ”

In May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Law SB 7072 to protect freedom of expression and allow Florida censors to sue two major social media companies: Facebook and Twitter. The law allows the state to fine the two platforms thousands of dollars each day for suspending or banning political candidates.

The bill only applied to large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, and included an exception for Internet platforms “operated by a company that owns and operates a theme park or entertainment complex,” which critics argued that they were not for Disney or NBCUniversal applies because businesses are vital to the state’s tourism sector.

In June District Judge Robert Hinkle issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing almost all parts of the law. He decided, “The exchange of ideas between private speakers is not a legitimate government interest. [The law] Outwardly discriminates between otherwise identical speakers: between social media providers who meet the size requirements of the law or not and who are or are not jointly owned by a theme park. The legislation does not stand up to strict scrutiny. “

But the coalition argues that Hinkle’s analysis is “riddled with errors. It deviated from course from the start by concluding that SB 7072 governs speech, while this act instead governs conduct not protected by the first amendment: the arbitrary application of its guidelines on content moderation through social -Media platforms, “says the letter.

The district court had considered SB 7072 to be a content-based law even if it was neutral in terms of content, and the court had “completely ignored the long-standing, compelling interest of states to guarantee their citizens access to the free flow of information”. and ideas. “

If the court’s “flawed analysis” is not corrected by the appeals court, the coalition argues, “the erroneous legal theories” advocated by the district court could be adopted by other courts across the country and jeopardize the laws of other states like HB 20.

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