Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis launched an offensive against “Big Tech” on Tuesday, warning that the social media platforms are targeting politicians like former President Donald Trump now but will soon be coming for regular American citizens, vowing to combat the threat.
“Today they may come after someone who looks like me. Tomorrow they may come after someone who looks like you,” DeSantis, a Republican, said during a news conference outside the state Capitol as he announced the Transparency in Technology Act.
The governor said he intends to “protect privacy” from the “oligarchs in Silicon Valley” – Google, Facebook and Twitter – because the platforms have “changed from neutral platforms to enforcers of preferred narratives.”
“I’m committed to addressing what may be one of the most pervasive threats to American self-government in the 21st century,” he said.
He singled out Twitter for suspending Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” after Jan. 6’s Capitol riots and Amazon closing its servers to the social media alternative Parler.
“What about the 88 million Americans who chose to follow Donald Trump? Sorry. Content moderators on Twitter pulled the plug,” DeSantis said.
After Twitter suspended Trump’s account, many of his followers turned to Parler, hoping to express their opinions and beliefs in a less-regulated environment, until tech behemoths turned against it.
“What really scared me was the decapitation of Parler,” he said. “Big tech has come to look more like big brother with each passing day.”
“The Hunter Biden story was true. The typical corporate media outlets chose to ignore it. They wanted to beat Trump,” he said, adding that the report about President Biden’s son “couldn’t get any traction” weeks before the election.
He said reporters wouldn’t have hesitated to go after him if he were the subject of the same story.
“You’re trying to tell me if there’s hacked information that could damage me, you guys wouldn’t print it? Give me a break.” DeSantis said. “You guys would print it every single day if you could. And Big Tech would allow it to proliferate 24/7.”
As part of his measure, DeSantis suggested fines of $100,000 per day for de-platforming political candidates, as well as daily fines for any company “that uses their content and user-related algorithms to suppress or prioritize the access of any content related to a political candidate or cause on the ballot.”
The governor also called for allowing people to opt-out of content algorithms, requiring notification about changes in terms of service and providing the right of citizens to take legal action if these conditions are violated.
DeSantis announced that under his policy, the Florida AG would be empowered to bring cases against tech companies under the Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act.
“Floridians should have the privacy of their data and personal information protected, their ability to access and participate in online platforms protected, and their ability to participate in elections free from interference from Big Tech protected. What began as a group of upstart technology companies from the West Coast has since transformed into an industry of monopoly platforms that monitor influence and control the flow of information in our country and among our citizens,” DeSantis said.
“The core issue here is this: are consumers going to have the choice to consume the information they choose, or are oligarchs in Silicon Valley going to make those choices for us?”