Florida Governor Signs One Bill Protecting Free Speech… And Another That Undermines It

from the i-guess-they-balance-out?!? dept

On Thursday, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed 44 bills into law, but two of them are particularly interesting to us. The first we wrote about back in March, SB 604, is a very problematic bill that undermines some basic free speech rights. It’s the latest in a new push by Hollywood to undermine anonymity online as a backdoor attack on copyright infringement. Basically, it says that if you’re distributing any sort of audiovisual work, you need to reveal who you are.

The implications here are massive. There are lots of cases where someone may wish to post certain audiovisual works without having to post their full name, address, phone number and email address — as the law now requires. And the First Amendment has long protected the right to be anonymous. And yet, the Florida legislature and Governor Scott signed it without much serious concern about how it’s stripping away the First Amendment anonymity rights of their citizens.

Oddly, however, in that very same batch of signed bills… is another bill that protects free speech rights: SB 1312, which expands Florida’s (very, very weak) anti-SLAPP law. Like too many states, Florida’s anti-SLAPP law originally only protected people in cases where they were sued over speech concerning government actions. The new bill expands that to “public issues” which is similar to many other anti-SLAPP bills. Considering the number of crazy defamation threats and lawsuits that seem to come out of Florida, this bill could be very, very useful in protecting free speech.

Getting the anti-SLAPP bill is really important, but losing anonymity seems really dangerous. These aren’t just the sort of things that “balance out” either. Either you support the First Amendment or you don’t. I’m glad that Florida has a better anti-SLAPP bill, but Governor Scott shouldn’t have taken away basic First Amendment protections with the same stroke of his pen in signing the “true origin” bill at the same time.

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Comments on “Florida Governor Signs One Bill Protecting Free Speech… And Another That Undermines It”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Aside from the fact that the True Origin of Digital Goods Act is likely unconstitutional, it notably excludes “video games, depictions of video game play, or the streaming of video game activity.” But video game play videos can include audio recordings, such as GTA V’s soundtrack playing in the background of the video.

Also, the injunctive relief part only mentions “an owner, assignee, authorized agent, or licensee” as being able to be aggrieved by a violation of the act. So no one has to identify themselves if they post their own material unless they’re afraid they’re going to sue themselves.

This indicates clearly that the supposed consumer protection justification for this act is bullshit because consumers can’t be aggrieved by a violation, only IP owners can.

Anonymous Coward says:

so what did he get in the way of ‘encouragement’ then, to turn him into yet another entertainment industries stooge? they must have a ‘political agent’ in just about every state by now. i wonder when the ‘BIG’ push is going to come and they try to take complete control of the internet? it’s exactly what they have been working towards all the time, making sure there are no come-backs on it and new laws covering almost every possible angle that they want!

jakerome (profile) says:

Thankfully the state can't strip first amendment rights

What a waste of a law. There must be hundreds of laws passed each decade which seek to undermine the first amendment in a variety of ways. Good hung that constitutional rights cannot be stripped away through legislation. Can’t wait to hear the gnashing of teeth from Hollywood, California to Hollywood, Florida when google and others get this crappy law invalidated as grossly unconstitutional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do they actually read what they sign? Doubt it

Aid: “Sir, sign here please”
Sir: “Uh OK.”
Aid #2: “Sir, sign here please”
Sir: “Uh OK”
Other Sir: “Which do you believe in, A or B?”
Sir: “Uh OK. Say, when’s lunch, since I’m not paying for it…”
Other Sirs: “Ha, anytime we want, as long as we want, as much as we want”
Sir: “Uh OK.”

LPA (profile) says:


As a FL SLAPP victim, I can tell you first hand that our First Amendment rights are being trampled on. Thomas Jefferson & James Madison would be rolling over in their graves if they saw my FL SLAPP. My SLAPP specifically states it is to “silence me.” It took four attorneys to get it dismissed. I felt like a walking ATM machine. I am one of the lucky ones. Most of the FL SLAPP victims are up against billionaire developers. One of my fellow FL SLAPP victims is in his mid-80’s. He’s already spent over $300,000 and will probably spend the rest of his remaining life using his money to get out of Judicial Jail.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Anti-SLAPP Bill Has Surprise Buried Therein

The court shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees and costs incurred in connection with a claim that an action was filed in violation of this section.

From Ch 2015-70, Laws of Florida.

File your anti-SLAPP motion. Lose, perhaps because the judge is reluctant to grant judgment that early in the case. The SLAPPer is now entitled to fees.

Not the first time, and probably not the last, but I have to remind people how close Tallahassee is to Chattahoochee. Or maybe, with work product like this, I do not have to remind people because it is fairly obvious.

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