A bill introduced in the #Florida Senate, known as SB 1780, proposes significant changes to defamation laws in the state. If passed, SB 1780 — "Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likeness would make it defamation to accuse someone of racism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, even if the allegations are false.
This means that individuals could sue others for making such accusations without having to prove "actual malice," a standard established in a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case. The bill also restricts the use of religious or scientific beliefs as a defense in cases involving accusations of homophobia or transphobia and imposes a minimum fine of $35,000 on defendants found liable for defamation.
Additionally, SB 1780 narrows the definition of a "public figure" in defamation suits, excluding non-elected or appointed public employees and individuals who gained notoriety through interviews, public defenses against accusations, or viral online content.
The bill also eliminates certain privileges for journalists and media entities, including the right to keep sources anonymous, making statements from anonymous sources "presumptively false" and potentially exposing journalists to defamation lawsuits. This proposed legislation could have significant implications for freedom of speech and the media in the Sunshine State.
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Link: CBS News