Posts in Federal Legislation
President Obama Signs the Consumer Review Fairness Act Into Law

President Obama signed a number of bills into law on Thursday, most notably H.R. 5111, the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016”. The legislation, which passed both houses of congress at the start of December, “makes certain clauses of a form contract void if it prohibits, or restricts, an individual from engaging in a review of a seller’s goods, services, or conduct.”

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The Hill: There is still time for President Obama, Congress to protect consumers

Americans recently made their voices heard by electing a new president and Congress. Whether your candidate was elected or not, open, free and transparent elections are what make our democratic system function so smoothly. Another core principle of our democracy is the freedom to express an opinion without the threat of retaliation.

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Getting SLAPP'd for getting involved: New protections considered

PPP Policy Director Evan Mascagni was recently quoted in an article about SLAPPs and the SPEAK FREE Act by Gene Policinski:

The proposed law would allow defendants to transfer lawsuits from state to federal courts, particularly valuable in 22 states that do not have an anti-SLAPP law or in those with weak protection. Farenthold said the law also will provide a means in federal court to quickly resolve a SLAPP lawsuit “before the legal fees run up.”

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DC Appeals Court Says Anti-SLAPP Laws Shouldn't Apply In Federal Courts

From Mike Masnick at Techdirt:

"We’ve discussed for quite some time the importance of anti-SLAPP laws, and how it’s ridiculous that we don’t have a federal anti-SLAPP law. Once again, anti-SLAPP laws are used to toss out bogus lawsuits that were clearly filed for the sake of silencing someone’s speech (SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”). Right now only some states have them, and there are many variations in the various state laws, with some much better than others. Unfortunately, a new ruling in the DC Circuit appeals court may make state anti-SLAPP laws much less effective. That’s because it says, more or less, that state anti-SLAPP laws only apply to cases in state/local courts, and not those that are in federal court (such as any case between two parties in different states).

More here.

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Techdirt: Here Are The Companies That Want To Charge You $2,500-$100,000 For Negative Reviews

From our friends at Techdirt:

Geek gadget also-ran KlearGear gained internet infamy thanks to the following paragraph tucked away on its “Terms of Sale and Use” page:

In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts KlearGear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.

Tacked onto this absurd redefining of “fair and honest feedback” was a $3,500 fee. This was levelled at a couple who complained about the non-delivery of products it had paid for. This went to court, and the couple was awarded over $300,000 in a default judgement when KlearGear no-showed.

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How libel chill is quashing negative online reviews

From Mark Gollom at CBC News:

The aggressive action taken by some businesses against those who post negative reviews online about their product or service is having a chilling effect on some reviewers who fear being sued, observers say.

“It’s a tremendous issue. We’re running into that all over. It’s cheap to threaten and expensive to defend,” said Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer who specializes in free speech issues related to the internet for the Washington, D.C.- based Public Citizen Litigation Group.

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Congress May Crack Down On Businesses' Efforts To Ban Consumer Reviews

PPP Board Member Eric Goldman, Director of the High Tech Law Institute and law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, had a piece published on Forbes’ website discussing the new federal bill that was introduced in Congress to strengthen consumer free speech rights online.

Read the full article here.

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