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Council News Release

10/15/2012  4:57:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Mike O'Brien

Councilmember OBrien responds to yellow pages opt-out ruling

Earlier today a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel of three justices ruled that Seattles yellow pages opt-out system violates the free speech of yellow pages publishers. Read the ruling here. Seattle City Councilmember Mike OBrien, sponsor of Seattles opt-out ordinance, disagrees with the ruling.

I am disappointed in the panels ruling. I have deep appreciation for our First Amendment protections and believe that freedom of speech is one of the most important rights we enjoy in the U.S., said Councilmember OBrien. The people of Seattle also should have the right to say no and right to privacy when unwanted yellow pages land on their doorstep.

Seattles opt-out system has been in place for more than a year now with overwhelming response. So far more than 25 percent of households and businesses have opted out of more than 435,000 phone books, saving over 400 tons of paper.

The yellow pages publishers challenged the law in Federal Court. The industry lost its initial challenge in a U.S. District Court in Seattle. The District ruling said that Seattles opt out system does not impede the free speech of yellow pages publishers or violate interstate commerce protections.

Todays ruling continues a troubling trend that, in effect, promotes the interests and profits of corporations over the choices and rights of our people. Common sense tells us that phonebooks are not speech and that protecting free speech means respecting peoples right to say they no longer want a phonebook delivered, said Councilmember OBrien.

In 2010 and 2011, the City Council passed Ordinances 123427 and123532, creating an opt-out system to help residents stop receiving unwanted phone books. The Stop Yellow Pages site launched in May 2011.

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