Legal Culpability for Bugs?

A lawsuit brought by a blind student against Target alleging that their web-site is not properly accessible has become a class action.  From the commentary I have read, the main reason that the site is hard to access with screen reading software is the lack of alt attributes for images on the site.  The alt attribute is used to give a text descriptor to images, it not only helps people using screen reading software, it also helps search engines understand your content.  You can read more about it here if you are interested.

Regardless of the outcome this case will increase the thought that large companies put into design of their web-site, but there may be impacts for the wider community as well.  I am sure that Target did not intentionally disenfranchise a segment of their market, they more likely took a coding shortcut.  It is best practice to apply descriptors to your images and to not do so is a coding error.  Depending on how this plays out, it is possible that Target could be found liable for a coding error, which comes under the general category of a software bug.

If there is a legal ruling of liability for software bugs won’t that open a can of worms?

One thought on “Legal Culpability for Bugs?

  1. There would be a million lawsuits the day after a ruling that a company was liable for software bugs. The day after the lawsuits there would also be 90% less software companies and programmers. :)

Comments are closed.