TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that he is making another run at reining in social media platforms by pushing state lawmakers to approve a “digital bill of rights,” for Floridians.
TikTok is among DeSantis’ targets, with the governor proposing to bar access to the suspected China-linked platform through any government-issued devices or networks serving them, including schools, colleges and universities.
The federal government and state of Florida have already barred TikTok access using their devices.
Other measures proposed include giving consumers more ability to control their personal data, prevent surveillance of cell phone conversations, and banning the collection of personally identified information, like GPS data.
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DeSantis, expected to announce his bid for the Republican presidential nomination after the Legislature’s two-month session’s scheduled end in May, has confronted “Big Tech” before, accusing platforms of discriminating against conservative thought.
Once a Trump ally, now a rival
He signed into law in 2021 a measure intended to punish Facebook and Twitter after they banned former President Donald Trump.
At the time, DeSantis was still a Trump protégé. Now, he’s emerged as a likely rival. And Florida’s social media regulations were ruled unconstitutional by federal courts, although the case now is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I think these are different issues,” DeSantis said of his latest drive, saying the earlier measure fell victim to “leftist judges” and others with a “chamber of commerce” view that private businesses like social media platforms can ban users for inappropriate behavior.
The digital bill of rights, he said, was within Florida’s authority – although past court rulings have questioned how far individual states can go.
During his appearance Wednesday before a crowd of supporters in West Palm Beach, DeSantis ridiculed the federal government’s lack of action to protect online users.
“Congress isn’t doing a darned thing about any of this and no one at the federal level has done anything about this the way they needed to,” DeSantis said.
John Kennedy is a reporter in the USA TODAY Network’s Florida Capital Bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @JKennedyReport
Story Credit: usatoday.com