The fight back against digital censorship gathers momentum

There are signs that bulk censorship and state surveillance may have reached their high-water mark, at least in the West.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a Senate Bill designed to allow Florida residents to sue social media platforms if they feel they have been unfairly censored. It specifies greater transparency regarding content moderation practices and requires advance notice whenever they move the goalposts. It implies DeSantis thinks social media platforms actively censor viewpoints they disapprove of.

“This session, we took action to ensure that ‘We the People’ — real Floridians across the Sunshine State — are guaranteed protection against the Silicon Valley elites,” said DeSantis. “Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behaviour firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favour of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable.”

“What we’ve been seeing across the U.S. is an effort to silence, intimidate, and wipe out dissenting voices by the leftist media and big corporations,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “Today, by signing SB 7072 into law, Florida is taking back the virtual public square as a place where information and ideas can flow freely. Many of our constituents know the dangers of being silenced or have been silenced themselves under communist rule. Thankfully in Florida we have a Governor that fights against big tech oligarchs that contrive, manipulate, and censor if you voice views that run contrary to their radical leftist narrative.”

Wired reports, with apparent glee, that the law will be laughed out of court, claiming it violates both the US Constitution and Section 230. That may well be the case, but if so DeSantis presumably knew that going in. Either way, it’s significant to see prominent politicians pick up the slack left by the likes of Trump and Hawley, and the debate seems here to stay in the US.

Meanwhile the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK’s spy agency – GCHQ – violated privacy rights through its regime of bulk interception of electronic communications. One of the Judges said it had opened the gates for an electronic Big Brother in Europe and some others, dissenting because they thought the ruling too lenient, even made direct reference to 1984, God bless them.

This long overdue awareness of the dangers of electronic censorship by some Western authorities comes as Twitter’s Indian offices were raided by police, apparently due to its reluctance to comply with requests for political censorship. Additionally Russia has already punished Twitter for failing to sufficiently implement state censorship demands and is threatening Google with the same.

The irony is that social media are being criticized for excessive political censorship in the US, but punished for not doing enough of it elsewhere. In many ways they’re in an impossible position, but the simplest solution is for them to only censor when mandated by law. All the extra stuff they do in the US and elsewhere just weakens their position and loses them allies where they need them most.


  1. Avatar Joe Watza 25/05/2021 @ 4:29 pm

    good write up Scott – thanks for keeping this in the news. Right or Left we want freedom by laws not arbitrary decree.

    • Avatar Andy Tiller 26/05/2021 @ 2:54 pm

      Absolutely right! But I’d rather see effort going into clarifying the law regarding what the tech giants should and shouldn’t censor, rather than the Florida law described above which I can’t see helping at all. It looks like political grandstanding rather than trying to solve the issue.

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