Nine Organizations Join Opposition to Florida Law That Incentivizes Harmful Online Content

Amicus brief: Law hurts consumers seeking healthy online communities

Jun 11, 2021

A group of nine industry and civil society organizations today filed an amicus brief opposing a new Florida law (S.B. 7072) that will incentivize online harassment, disinformation, and incendiary content.  The law, signed recently by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is scheduled to go into effect July 1.

Amicus Brief

The organizations — including Chamber of Progress, Connected Commerce Council, Consumer Technology Association, Engine, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, National Black Justice Coalition, Progressive Policy Institute, TechNet, and Washington Center for Technology Policy Inclusion — expressed their support for a preliminary injunction barring the law’s implementation. The brief supports NetChoice and the Consumer & Communications Industry Association’s challenge to the Florida law.

The brief argues that the new law harms consumers by stopping online providers from creating healthy online communities:

“[T]he Act will irreparably harm consumers by depriving them of the protections that they have come to expect as part of their online experiences, making them vulnerable to malicious and harmful actors and content, and denying them the healthy online environment that is essential to performing myriad tasks of everyday life from work to school to staying in touch with family and friends.”

The organizations also argue that SB 7072 will restrict Floridians online expression, rather than increase them (as the law’s backers claim):“The natural result of the Act will be a decrease in content moderation efforts and a corresponding increase in consumer exposure to dangerous and harmful content and a serious risk that consumers will, contrary to the intent of the bill, have fewer options for expressing themselves online.

Online services have adopted policies and enforcement procedures against these types of behaviors because they understand such policies and procedures are necessary to ensure that all online users have the opportunity and comfort to express themselves online.” 

Finally, the organizations argue that the law puts domestic violence and cyberstalking victims at risk of serious harm:

“Tools such as blocking prevent abusers from seeing a survivor’s content which may be a critical protection to prevent the abuser from obtaining information about the survivor’s location. Without such tools, survivors may find themselves with fewer options for safely using online services or worse confronted with serious risks to their physical and emotional safety.”

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