Congressman Joe Kennedy III has joined Congressman Leonard Lance (R-NJ) in introducing the Consumer Review Fairness Act, legislation that will ensure American consumers can post honest business reviews and feedback online without fear of retribution.
The legislation is in response to reports of companies using secretive “non-disparagement” clauses in their terms of service to try to bar customers from posting negative reviews of a product, service or experience.
“Consumers have an undeniable right to voice their concerns with a business, product or service when their experience fails to meet expectations,” said Congressman Kennedy. “By eliminating secretive non-disparagement clauses, the Consumer Review Fairness Act would ensure companies can never retaliate against customers for simply expressing an opinion.”
The Consumer Review Fairness Act would void any non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts if they restrict consumers from publicly reviewing products or businesses accurately and would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to take action against businesses that insert these provisions into their contracts. It also would ensure companies still are able to take action against individuals who post false and defamatory reviews.
The legislation is supported by online review platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Glassdoor as well as the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, the Internet Association, Demand Progress, Engine, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Public Participation Project.
"TripAdvisor whole-heartedly supports the introduction of the Consumer Review Fairness Act by Representatives Lance and Kennedy,” said Adam Medros, Senior Vice President of Global Product at the Needham-based TripAdvisor. “Consumer reviews have become an integral part of many Americans’ purchasing decisions. In the same way that you can tell your friends and family about a good or bad experience you had with a company or product, you also have a fundamental right to share that experience online. While most businesses understand that such reviews offer businesses and consumers alike the ability to learn and benefit from others’ experiences, a number of unscrupulous businesses have attempted to bully or intimidate their customers from sharing their negative experiences. We strongly believe that every American has ‘the right to write’ and these attempts to stifle free speech are against everything we stand for at TripAdvisor."