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30 June 20213 minute read

DLA Piper team wins preliminary injunction blocking Florida's social media "deplatforming" law

DLA Piper, representing lead plaintiff NetChoice and working with co-counsel for the Computer & Communications Industry Association, obtained a preliminary injunction yesterday blocking enforcement of Florida’s social media “deplatforming” law.

This first-of-its-kind statute bans “social media platforms” – defined to include various online services that host user-generated content – from “deplatforming” political candidates and engaging in routine moderation actions to promote the safety and integrity of their services. Under the law, efforts by online services to restrict or flag user-generated content that violates their community guidelines and terms of use (including public health disinformation, hate speech and harassment, online scams and spam) could expose the services to fines of US$250,000 per day and a private right of action imposing US$100,000 in statutory damages.

Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle of the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida agreed with plaintiffs’ arguments that the law likely violates the services’ First Amendment rights and that various provisions are also preempted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Accordingly, the Court enjoined enforcement of the law while the case moves forward on the merits, explaining: “If a preliminary injunction is not issued, the plaintiffs’ members will sometimes be compelled to speak and will sometimes be forbidden from speaking, all in violation of their editorial judgment and the First Amendment.”

DLA Piper partners Peter Karanjia and Ilana Eisenstein argued the preliminary injunction motion on behalf of NetChoice, alongside co-counsel for CCIA. The DLA Piper team also includes Jim Halpert, Chris Oprison, Ben Fabens-Lassen, Dani Morrison, Jonathan Green and J. Trumon Phillips. The case is NetChoice, LLC v. Moody, 4:21-cv-00220-RH-MAF (N.D. Fla.).