Dem reps introduce bill to protect Yelp comments
A handful of House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a bill to protect people who write reviews on Yelp or similar online review websites.
The Consumer Review Freedom Act would prohibit companies from including clauses in their contracts that prevented people from writing critical reviews about them online, a tactic that some businesses have used to avoid online negative publicity.
“No country that values free speech would allow customers to be penalized for writing an honest review,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who wrote the bill along with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), said in a statement. “I introduced this legislation to put a stop to this egregious behavior so people can share honest reviews without fear of litigation.”
A slew of companies have gained online notoriety for “non-disparagement” clauses slipped into their contracts in recent months.
Earlier this year, for instance, a Hudson, N.Y., hotel caught flack for demanding a $500 fee for every online negative review posted by people who attend weddings it hosts. In another case, online retailer KlearGear reportedly trashed a couple’s credit after they criticized it on the online review site RipoffReport.com.
“As a country that prides itself on free speech as a tenet of our Constitution, I felt this sneaky tactic of limiting it as purely wrong,” Sherman said in a statement.
Tuesday’s bill follows a similar effort in California. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill in that state last week banning customers from retaliating against people who leave negative reviews.
Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) are co-sponsoring the bill.