French web accessibility firm FACIL’iti, through its law firm HAAS Avocates, has 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 promises instant, full accessibility and compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. They argued the company's marketing claims fail to match reality.
The legal threats take 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 an industry backlash against the company, and prompted French trade union Cinov Numerique to issue a 'Motion of support' for Koena.
Operator: Julie Moynat, Koena
Purpose: Improve website accessibility
Technology: Web accessibility overlay
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Marketing - hype
Opacity: Legal - gagging order