Florida tech law gives government power it should never have
A new Florida law that is intended to prevent tech companies from censoring the views of people they find disagreeable is getting some support among conservatives. As TechFreedom’s Ari Cohn writes, the clearly unconstitutional law also makes matters worse by trading Big Tech control for Big Government control:
On the constitutional question, Cohn says:
At its core, Florida’s law is about forcing social media platforms to carry certain speakers and viewpoints. But it is a bedrock First Amendment principle that the government cannot compel private parties to speak or to carry the speech of others.
The government cannot force you to place a sign on your lawn promoting a political candidate, it cannot force Fox News to invite a spokesman for Hamas on its shows and it cannot force the local grocer to allow ANTIFA flyers on its community bulletin board. This principle applies equally to social media companies, which retain their own constitutionally protected editorial discretion.
But there’s another poison pill inside the new law that should have given conservatives pause:
[Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis framed his bill as a “consumer protection” measure. What DeSantis and other proponents of this bill overlook is that normalizing a “consumer protection” rationale for regulating social media is dangerous indeed for conservatives.
First Amendment advocates and proponents of limited government share a common philosophy: never create government power that you would not give to your political or ideological opponent. With each attempt to justify social media regulation by appealing to consumer protection, conservatives are doing just that.
And it’s along those very lines congressional Democrats are seeking to compel social media platforms to ban even more content.
As Cohn reminds us:
…when it comes to government power, meddling begets meddling, and eventually that meddling will stick — just likely not in the intended way. “History bears testimony,” Justice Frankfurter observed, that liberty is extinguished “heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.”
All the more reason to oppose politicians’ plans to compel, or censor, private speech. No matter how they dress up their schemes, the end is the same: liberty loses to state control.