Sara Randazzo, Wall Street Journal:
Companies have spent more than a decade forcing employees and customers to resolve disputes outside the traditional court system, using secretive arbitration proceedings that typically don’t allow plaintiffs to team up and extract big-money payments akin to a class action.
Now, Amazon.com Inc. is bucking that trend. With no announcement, the company recently changed its terms of service to allow customers to file lawsuits. Already, it faces at least three proposed class actions, including one brought May 18 alleging the company’s Alexa-powered Echo devices recorded people without permission.
The retail giant made the change after plaintiffs’ lawyers flooded Amazon with more than 75,000 individual arbitration demands on behalf of Echo users. That move triggered a bill for tens of millions of dollars in filing fees, according to lawyers involved, payable by Amazon under its own policies.
I know these lawyers are just doing lawyer things — there is not really anything righteous about this — but it is hysterical to see this escape hatch for corporate liability backfire. Please, more of this, given the times where binding arbitration clauses have been used to bury a high-tech Peeping Tom or by credit card companies to shut down legal remedies.
See Also: Sarah Jeong on Twitter.