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Congressman Eric Swalwell

Representing the 15th District of California

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Swalwell Praises Bill to Protect Consumers From Retaliation for Online Reviews

September 12, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record in support of H.R. 5111, the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.  The House approved the bill on a voice vote. 

This bipartisan bill, introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-7) and Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (MA-4), is based on another that Swalwell had co-authored to prevent retribution for honest business reviews posted online.

“One of the most amazing aspects of the Internet is its ability to allow for the sharing of information, and consumers often rely on the reviews of others to make purchasing decisions.  This system only works if consumers have access to all information available from across the nation, including both positive and negative reviews. We simply cannot allow companies to bully or attempt to silence customers who want to offer negative but honest assessments of products or services.

“I was outraged when I first heard last Congress that companies were doing exactly that, using buried contractual terms, known as nondisparagement clauses, to try to block or punish customers for writing negative reviews online. To end this practice I introduced H.R. 5499, the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2014, a narrow bill designed to outlaw nondisparagement clauses and empower the government to stop companies from using them while maintaining the ability of businesses to sue for traditional defamation. This Congress, Representative Darrell Issa and I introduced a bipartisan version of this legislation.

“Today the House is considering H.R. 5111, very similar to our Consumer Review Freedom Act but with some improvements. I want to thank Representatives Leonard Lance and Joe Kennedy for introducing this legislation and working diligently to move it forward. The Senate has already passed essentially the same bill, and so I hope once the House acts today the Senate can quickly pass H.R. 5111 and send it to the President’s desk for his signature. This will be an important step in protecting a vital source of information for consumers across the country.

“I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of H.R. 5111, and I yield back the balance of my time.”