Seattle Law Could Spell Big Trouble for Amazon, Facebook, and Other Big Tech Companies If They Engage in Political Censorship
Mar 01, 2021 10:43 AM ET
Legal Newswire POWERED BY LAW.COM
As state and federal lawmakers consider drafting new legislation to counter big tech censorship of dissenting political voices, few seem to realize that a little-known anti-discrimination law already on the books in Seattle could spell big trouble for big tech companies that engage in political censorship, according to Discovery Institute.
The Seattle law expressly forbids businesses from discriminating on the basis of "political ideology" when contracting for goods or services.
In an exclusive article published by Mind Matters News, political scientist John West explains how far-reaching the Seattle law is and examines the dramatic impact it could have on Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple, among other tech giants.
As West explains, the law would seem to provide a clear ground for legal action against tech companies that reject apps, ban films, censor books, or deny advertising or other services based on the political viewpoint of the material being rejected.
West points out that "a person doesn't necessarily have to live in Seattle or even Washington State in order to file legal action under the law."
For tech companies headquartered in Seattle like Amazon, the Seattle law potentially allows any customer or business from any state to bring legal action against Amazon for discrimination based on political ideology. According to an attorney cited in West's article, remedies under the law include "injunctive relief, orders requiring affirmative action, and punitive damages."
"The Seattle anti-discrimination law packs a punch," writes West. "Damages requested under the law could be severe."
For tech companies with offices in Seattle but not headquartered there, legal liability would be more limited, but lawsuits could likely still be brought. West explains how in his article.
"It remains to be seen whether anyone will actually use Seattle's fair contracting ordinance to take on big tech censorship," writes West. "But if they do, Seattle could soon become ground zero in the battle against big tech."
West is Vice President of the Seattle-based Discovery Institute and the former chair of the Department of Political Science at Seattle Pacific University. He holds a PhD in Government from Claremont Graduate University and is an author and filmmaker.
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