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Tech trade groups file suit against Florida social media law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs social media law.

A pair of technology trade groups have filed a lawsuit against a recently signed Florida law that seeks to end "big tech censorship," a measure passed after a number of conservative voices were muzzled on social media networks.

Signed into law on Monday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, SB 7072 inhibits tech companies from banning or "de-platforming" political candidates and news outlets from their services. The measure places heavy daily fines on offenders and opens the door to direct litigation from users.

The first state level attempt to tackle the perceived threat of political content suppression, Florida's law raises questions of constitutionality as it applies to companies' rights to free speech.

On Thursday, NetChoice and the Computer & Communications Industry Association homed in on the issue with a lawsuit claiming SB 7072 forces companies to host content that would typically be prohibited under their respective business policies, reports CNN. The groups represent a number of tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter.

"No one, not even someone who has paid a filing fee to run for office, has a First Amendment right to compel a private actor to carry speech on their private property," the filing reads. It goes on to detail comments from DeSantis and state lawmakers that suggest the law was passed to "punish" social media platforms "specifically because the Legislature and Governor dislike the perceived political and ideological viewpoints that those private businesses supposedly express through their content judgments."

The complaint also targets an antitrust blacklist and an exemption for online entities owned by Florida-based theme theme park or entertainment complex operator.

Apple does not operate a major social network, but the company has come under fire from conservative leaders for removing the Parler app from the App Store in January. The app was pulled over concerns that poor content management allowed users to leverage the service in attempts to organize the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

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