The governor of Florida, America’s third most populous state, has hit out at Big Tech in comments made to a conservative gathering in Texas, aligning with the Lone Star state and warning Silicon Valley firms that he sees regulation of the firms as “the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right this year and next year.”
“We’re going to take action,” he said on behalf of the state of Florida. “I think you’re going to see Texas want to take action.”
Bemoaning the one-sided nature of tech censorship, DeSantis said: “We need to really think deeply about if we are a disfavored class based on our principles, based on having conservative views, based on being a Christian, based on whatever you can say that is not favored in Silicon Valley.”
DeSantis is a rising star in the Republican Party, winning a tight race for Florida governor in the 2018 midterm elections and garnering praise for the orderliness of his state’s election handling last November.
His remarks follow the formal announcement of a new bill in Poland that would see technology giants hit with monster fines if they censor the lawful opinions of Polish citizens, making the firms subject to the rulings of a powerful new free speech council.
Proposals thus far in Florida are less severe, although state lawmakers have already called on the governor and his cabinet to divest the state’s billion dollar pension fund of all stake in the Silicon Valley companies.
Another proposal from Senate Senator Danny Burgess would take more active measures to prevent the cull of conservative voices and could prohibit the practice altogether.
Although Republicans find themselves out of power nationally, they continue to wield the lion’s share of influence on a state level. They currently control twenty-three state governments, seven additional state legislatures, and four more state governors. Their rival Democrats control only fifteen state governments.
The scope of the conservative backlash against Big Tech widened last week when Google and Apple flexed their muscle and used their power over the vast majority of the world’s smartphones to remove the Twitter rival Parler.
Speaking about Parler, which was also de-platformed by server provider Amazon in the wake of Twitter’s ban on President Trump, DeSantis said: “They decapitated this company, Parler. This was a coordinated assault on a company that was trying to compete.”
Apple and Google are currently facing a high profile legal battle against a non-political foe, Epic Games, who have accused the tech giants of illegal monopoly practices. That lawsuit has now spilled over into the UK, with Epic alleging the firms are violating British competition laws too.
If the action is successful, Apple and Google could be forced to release their stranglehold on the smartphone software market by allowing third party app stores easy access to their operating systems, giving new hope to insurgent platforms like Parler.