An appeals court on Monday upheld a blocking of key provisions of Florida’s controversial social media law that would prevent companies from banning politicians, siding with tech industry groups that oppose the measure.
The 11th Circuit’s unanimous 3-0 decision to block most provisions of the law comes as the tech industry awaits a Supreme Court ruling on whether to block a similar law that took effect in Texas as part of a pending case in the lower courts regarding its legality. .
The 11th Circuit ruled that the law would infringe the First Amendment rights held by social media platforms, since they are private companies.
“In their wildest dreams, no one from the founding generation could have imagined Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or TikTok. But “whatever the challenges of applying the Constitution to ever-changing technology, the fundamental principles freedom of speech and of the press, like the commandment of the First Amendment, does not vary when a new and different means of communication arises,” the court wrote in a notice.
But the court is lifting a block on certain provisions of the law, including one that would require social media platforms to allow disabled users access to their own data stored on the platform’s servers for at least 60 days.
The court also pushed back against Florida’s argument that the rigs operate as “common carriers,” a similar argument Republicans in Texas are making to advance their law.
“Social media platforms have never acted as common carriers,” the court wrote.
“While social media platforms generally keep themselves open to all members of the public, they do require users, as a prerequisite of access, to accept their terms of service and adhere to their community standards” , continues the opinion.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (right) said she was “pleased” the court ruling upheld part of the law.
“We are delighted that the court recognized the state’s authority to curb social media companies and upheld significant portions of Florida law clearing the way for this action. We will continue to vigorously defend Florida’s authority to hold Big Tech to account,” Moody tweeted.
The decision contrasts with one made by the 5th Circuit a few weeks ago, lifting a deadlock on Texas law as the case led by NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) makes its way through lower courts.
Industry groups are also behind the case against the Florida law and cheered the 11th Circuit’s decision on Monday.
“This decision means that platforms cannot be compelled by the government to broadcast despicable, abusive and extremist content under penalty. This is good news for internet users, the First Amendment and free speech in a democracy,” CCIA Chairman Matt Schruers said in a statement.