FACIL’iti legal threats result in automated website accessibility backlash

Occurred: October 2021

French web accessibility firm FACIL’iti filed legal threats against web accessibility expert Julie Moynat and consultancy Koena, both of whom had been publicly critical of the company.

Moynat and Koena had questioned the effectiveness of FACIL’iti's automated accessibility overlay product, which promised instant, full accessibility and compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. They argued the company's marketing claims fail to match reality.

The legal threats, issued by FACIL’iti's law firm HAAS Avocates, took the form of 'poursuites bâillons' (or legal gagging orders, roughly equivalent to a US SLAPP suit), and are typically used to intimidate or silence critics or opponents with the prospect of full legal proceedings.

The move sparked a backlash against the company and raised further questions about the efficacy of automated web accessibility products and the industry in general. It also prompted French trade union Cinov Numerique to issue a 'Motion of support' for Koena.

Operator: Julie Moynat, Koena
Developer: FACIL’iti
Country: France
Sector: Business/professional services
Purpose: Improve website accessibility  
Technology: Web accessibility overlay
Issue: Accuracy/reliability
Transparency: Legal; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: November 2021