Yellow Pages Sues Seattle For Letting Residents Opt-Out Of Getting Phone Books

A few weeks ago we wrote about the recently passed ordinance in Seattle that would create a do-not-deliver list for residents who no longer want to receive the doorstop that is the phone book. Now we hear from the Yellow Pages Association that they have filed a lawsuit alleging that the regulations violate their right to free speech.

From a statement sent to Consumerist:

The complaint… asserts that the ordinance enacted last month violates the First Amendment, which prohibits government from licensing or exercising advance approval of the press, from directing publishers what to publish and to whom they may communicate, and from assessing fees for the privilege of publishing. The suit also claims that the Seattle ordinance unlawfully interferes with interstate commerce and violates the privacy rights of Seattle residents…

The Seattle ordinance unfairly singles out the Yellow Pages industry with regulations and fees that are not imposed on other media, including discriminatory license fees for the right to publish and unprecedented “advance recovery fees” that previously have been limited to toxic or hard-to-recycle materials. The ordinance also mandates that publishers turn over consumers’ private information to the City of Seattle and imposes obligatory cover language dictated by the city government.

“We agree that residents should have a choice of whether they receive a Yellow Pages directory, but the Seattle City Council has passed a law that violates the most basic freedom in the United States,” said the Yellow Pages Assoc. president, adding that the organization is already working on a site,, that would allow people in any municipality to opt-out and would make Seattle’s online registry redundant.

“The City of Seattle should treat us no differently than other media including newspapers, magazines, direct mail, billboards and television,” says the YPA president.