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Legislation

Expanding Nevada’s Public Accommodations Laws to Online Platforms

In June 2021, Nevada enactedAssembly Bill 207. The Act extends the state’s public accommodations laws, which prevent discrimination and segregation in commerce, to online entities. Previously, this law only applied to brick-and-mortar businesses. Public accommodations laws are a cornerstone of civil rights statutes, and the passage of this bill means that Nevadans will be better protected from online discrimination. Digital Justice Initiative attorney David Brody worked closely with bill sponsor Assemb. Howard Watts and testified in support of the bill in the Nevada Assembly and Senate.

  • Read our press release on the bill’s passage here.
  • Read David Brody’s testimony before the Nevada legislature here.
  • Nevada legislative history available here.
  • Nevada Assembly March 26, 2021 hearing agenda and minutes available here.
  • Nevada Senate May 3, 2021 hearing agenda and minutes available here.

Expanding District of Columbia’s Public Accommodations Protections to Online Platforms

In December 2020, the D.C. Council extended the D.C. Human Rights Act’s public accommodations protections to apply to online businesses, such as social media platforms, overturning the contrary decision of the D.C. Circuit in Freedom Watch v. Google. This will prevent platforms from discriminating in their services and will allow legal action against online harassers who threaten and cyberbully D.C. residents on the basis of their protected characteristics. David Brody, who leads the Digital Justice Initiative, worked closely with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General to pass the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act. The omnibus Act also includes several other provisions to strengthen D.C.’s hate crimes laws, particularly protections for those targeted on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

  • D.C. Council legislative history available here.
  • Read our press release here.

Reforming Section 230: Endorsement of the SAFE TECH Act

Tech companies exploit Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to evade responsibility for online harms and discrimination. The Lawyers’ Committee endorsed the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act, a bill that would make much-needed reforms to Section 230. The SAFE TECH Act would strengthen the ability to hold online businesses accountable when they violate civil rights laws.

  • Read our endorsement here. (23)
  • Learn more about the bill from one of the sponsors here. (24)

Report – Discriminatory Denial of Service: Applying State Public Accommodations Laws to Online Commerce

The Digital Justice Initiative published the first ever comprehensive report on the public accommodations laws of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, including their applicability to online entities. Because most states enacted such anti-discrimination laws before the invention of the internet, it can be unclear whether and how they apply to online commerce.

  • Read the report here.