Councilmember O'Brien responds to yellow pages opt-out
Earlier today a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel of
three justices ruled that Seattle's yellow pages opt-out
system violates the free speech of yellow pages publishers.
Read the ruling here. Seattle City Councilmember Mike
O'Brien, sponsor of Seattle's opt-out ordinance, disagrees
with the ruling.
"I am disappointed in the panel's 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 O'Brien.
"The people of Seattle also should have the right to say
'no' and right to privacy when unwanted yellow pages land
on their doorstep."
Seattle's 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
Seattle's opt out system does not impede the free speech of
yellow pages publishers or violate interstate commerce
"Today's 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 people's right to say they no
longer want a phonebook delivered," said Councilmember
In 2010 and 2011, the City Council passed Ordinances
123532, creating an opt-out system to help residents
stop receiving unwanted phone books. The
Stop Yellow Pages site launched in May 2011.