Fw: The Internet minefield Federal court ruling averts jumble of unknown regulations in on-line case

>Omaha World-Herald
>Thursday, October 24, 2002
>The Internet minefield Federal court ruling averts jumble of unknown
>regulations in on-line case
>On the surface, it sounds like a blatantly frivolous lawsuit: a blind
>suing Southwest Airlines, trying to force the company to make its Web
>easier for blind people to navigate.
>Even knowing that various screen readers can translate electronic text
>into speech or Braille doesn't dilute the feeling that common sense won
>the day.
>U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz said the ADA - Americans With
>Disabilities Act - applies only to physical spaces, such as restaurants
>and movie theaters, and not to the Internet. "To expand the ADA to
>'virtual' spaces would be to create new rights without well-defined
>standards," Seitz wrote in an opinion dismissing the case. Imagine the
>consequences for any company doing business online if the ADA were
>expanded to the Internet. Thousands of small companies have just enough
>expertise to put up a Web site at all, without being beset by worries
>about making it compatible with electronic readers. And as with many
>technologies, a variety of screen readers exists. Would companies have
>test their sites with all of them?
>Then there would be the consequences beyond compatibility with screen
>readers. Criminals with high blood pressure, students with learning
>disabilities and golfers with bum legs have tested the limits of
>ADA definitions. Imagine the almost unlimited claims if the Internet
>Disabled Americans have made many important strides since the ADA's
>passage. They have entered the work force in unprecedented numbers.
>have enjoyed well-deserved access to public social events that others
>for granted. Now, technology is starting to bring the world to their
>fingertips through the World Wide Web.
>The Web has produced many benefits. But it is still in its infancy;
>are many unknowns right now in how to regulate it. We're glad to see
>courts declining to add to that gray area.

Received on Saturday, 9 November 2002 18:34:19 UTC