Business usually prefers to avoid championing day-to-day government regulation. But a recent explosion of “surf by” lawsuits accusing consumer-facing websites of violating Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) has businesses demanding regulations setting the minimum requirements to render commercial websites accessible to disabled visitors.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded that websites are places of public accommodation, requiring accessibility to all visitors. But the DOJ has failed to regulate the standards of accessibility, opening every commerce category to accessibility lawsuits—with over 1.000 filed in New York federal courts alone. Seeking a definitive safe harbor, business interest groups are calling on Congress to mandate that the DOJ issue regulations firmly establishing accessibility standards. The White House is championing a reduced business regulatory scheme, leaving courts as the arbiter of minimum standards. This has led to commercial chaos, replete with over-burdened court dockets and companies facing shake-down lawsuits often settled for amounts less than defense costs.
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