Two Florida Lawmakers File State Bills Attacking Big Tech

On Tuesday,  Florida lawmakers Rep. Randy Fine (R-Melbourne) and Sen. Joe Gruters (R-Sarasota) respectively filed bills in the Florida House and Senate, taking a swing at Big Tech by proposing bans on contracts between certain companies and state government entities.

The House Bill, HB 439, entitled “Prohibited Governmental Transaction with Technology Companies and for Chinese Products,” is “an act relating to prohibited governmental transactions with technology companies and for Chinese products.” In particular, the bill seeks to stop “an agency or local governmental entity from purchasing any good or service made, sold, or provided by certain technology companies.” 

The bill adds that “an agency or local governmental entity may not purchase, or enter into or renew a contract for the purchase or provision of, any good or service made, sold, or provided by Facebook, Inc.; Twitter, Inc.;, Inc.; Apple, Inc.; or Alphabet, Inc.” Moreover, if an agency or local government entity enters into or renews any contract for purchasing goods or services on or after July 1, 2021, the contract must contain a provision “that authorizes the termination of such contract at the option of the awarding body if the company is found to be providing agency or local governmental entity with goods made or services provided by” the aforementioned companies. 

The related Senate Bill (SB 810), entitled “Prohibited Governmental Transaction Involving Certain Companies and Products,” provides for the same prohibitions as the House Bill. Both bills also prohibit Florida governments from buying goods or products that are at least 25% made in China starting Jan. 1, 2023. If enacted, the acts will go into effect on July 1, 2021.

This proposed legislation follows various actions by these Big Tech companies, including Twitter banning accounts, Amazon Web Services terminating Parler’s services, and Apple and Google’s app stores taking Parler’s app down. The Herald Tribune noted that Sen. Gruters said “… they get to choose who they do business with. And so do we as the state of Florida.”

The Orlando Sentinel noted that this may prove difficult as the companies singled out in the bills “provide large amounts of goods and services to the state.” For example, “Amazon did more than $500,000 in contracts with the Florida Department of Health alone since December, including providing website services for COVID-19 vaccinations and providing personal protection equipment such as masks and gloves to help stop the coronavirus.”-