SEATTLE—On Thursday, NetChoice filed an amicus curiae brief with the Chamber of Progress and TechNet in the Court of Appeals for the State of Washington, Division I, supporting Meta in the case Washington v. Meta.
A few years ago, Washington State passed its “Platform Disclosure Law,” an unprecedented measure requiring online services to patrol for political advertisements. Within two business days of a request—from anyone, anywhere—such platforms must make a litany of disclosures about any ad even slightly relating to Washington politics.
Washington stands alone among all 50 States in implementing these disclosure requirements for political ads without requiring their users both to notify the services when they post regulated ads and to provide the platforms with the information that must be disclosed to the State.
Faced with this impossible task, several leading platforms—including Meta, Google and Yahoo!—have recently moved to avoid violating the law by banning Washington state political ads entirely.
But because the state only penalizes platforms for non-compliance, some citizens still place ads illicitly, in violation of the platforms’ bans. Meta is paying the price—$24 million, to be exact—for failing to disclose prohibited ads it knew nothing about and made every effort to block.
Meta challenged the law’s constitutionality, arguing it violates the company’s First Amendment rights. The trial court found against Meta, and the company is now appealing to the Washington State Court of Appeals.
In our brief asking the Court to reverse the lower court’s judgment, we make two main points. First, Washington’s Platform Disclosure Law burdens speech more severely than any other disclosure law nationwide. Second, this violates the First Amendment by chilling speech and restricting participation in the democratic process.
“To preserve Washingtonians’ ability to participate fully in the democratic process, we ask the Court of Appeals to uphold the First Amendment and reverse the lower court’s decision,” said Nicole Saad Bembridge, NetChoice Associate Director of Litigation. “The burden of Washington’s Platform Disclosure Law ultimately falls on Washington candidates, campaigns and voters, restricting their ability to engage in civic discourse.”
Saad Bembridge continued: “Online ads are often the cheapest, most effective way for campaigns to communicate with voters and constituents, and this law incentivizes services to ban these ads altogether. We encourage the Court to invalidate this statute.”
Read our amicus curiae brief here.
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