Is Seattle’s Phone Book Crackdown a Step in the Right Direction?

Posted on by Jason Arango (jarango)
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Last week marked the beginning of Seattle's new opt out registry, which made it the first city in the country requiring phone book companies to honor requests from people who no longer want to receive an antiquated bundle of listings and advertisements. With the city estimating about two million phone books recycled each year, at a total cost of approximately $350,000, the new ordinance intends to eliminate some of the waste by saving people the hassle of carrying each phone book delivery directly from their doorstep to the recycling bin.

What a waste. (Image via edkohler)

On the same day the registry was unveiled, Dex (the city's largest Yellow Pages distributor) filed an injunction stating the new ordinance is in violation of the First Amendment. Obviously Dex has a vested interest in being able to unload unwanted trash on people's doorsteps, since delivering to every household in the city allows them to continue using inflated statistics about the number of households who "use" a phone book. However, no matter what becomes of the ruling with regard to free speech, being able to dump something on a person's doorstep isn't the same as having a useful product.

The Yellow Pages have become increasingly irrelevant, and between the internet and smart phones, I don't know a single person who's even cracked open a phone book in the past two or three years. Even if Seattle's new measure does end up getting shot down, hopefully it sends a sobering message to an outdated industry: We don't need you.

Do you think people should be able to opt out of receiving a phone book, and even more importantly, do the Yellow Pages still have any value?

Do you still use the phone book?

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