Attorneys General Ford and Fitch Lead Bipartisan Amicus Brief to Hold Online Companies Accountable to Consumers

July 8, 2024

Carson City, NV – Attorney General Aaron D. Ford and Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R-MS) announced filing a bipartisan, multistate amicus brief last week in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in defense of state laws that hold web-based companies accountable for consumer protection violations. A federal district court in California found in favor of Shopify in a data privacy case (Briskin v Shopify Inc), affording the online platform and others like it special protections.

“According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail e-commerce sales for just the first three months of this year exceeded $268 billion, and Mississippi consumers are increasingly conducting business online,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “Online businesses cannot be allowed to evade state consumer protection laws that help level the playing field for everyday consumers against big corporations. But the lower court in this case essentially found that because online companies do business everywhere, they can be held accountable nowhere. I was proud to stand with AG Ford and these 29 other Attorneys General in a bipartisan effort to protect American consumers when they do business online.”

"Our consumers need protection from fraudsters who are able to take advantage of laws that lag behind the rapid technological growth in the digital retail space,” said Attorney General Aaron Ford. "If online companies are able to skirt their responsibility to consumers, it makes it harder for states to protect their residents from online scams."

    In the brief, Generals Fitch, Ford, and 29 other Attorneys General explain, “[Adoption of the lower court’s analysis] could operate to deprive state attorneys general of a proper venue to enforce their respective states’ consumer protection and other laws against internet-based companies…. Such an extreme result could potentially operate to immunize these companies from ever facing enforcement actions from state attorneys general seeking to protect their states’ citizens using their state legislative grants of authority to do so.”

    Along with Mississippi and Nevada, 29 Attorneys General joined the amicus brief, including: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia.

    Read the Amicus Brief.