Congress May Crack Down On Businesses’ Efforts To Ban Consumer Reviews (Forbes Cross-Post)

28 11 2014


Imagine a dentist telling her patients that they can’t write online reviews about her. Or a hotel deducting money from a newly married couple’s security deposit if any member of the wedding party blasts the hotel on Yelp. These types of stories might sound fanciful, but they are true–and stories like these are becoming increasingly common as some businesses panic about the growing importance of consumer reviews.

Recently, Reps. Swalwell and Sherman introduced H.R. 5499, the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2014. The law targets businesses’ efforts to suppress consumer reviews or “performance assessments” of businesses. It says that businesses could not prohibit such reviews, impose a fine for posting a review, or require consumers to provide the business with exclusive rights to such reviews. Any such provision in a form contract automatically would be void and also would constitute an “unlawful” practice. The Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys’ general would have enforcement authority.

This bill proposal addresses the same concerns as the newly enacted California law, AB 2365, which also stops businesses from banning consumer reviews. There are some differences, but they are relatively inconsequential. For example, the California law doesn’t clearly cover the intellectual property trick popularized by Medical Justice, while the federal law doesn’t clearly provide for any consumer recourse or any financial penalties for businesses that violate the restrictions.


The content in this post was found at and was not authored by the moderators of Clicking the title link will take you to the source of the post.



Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment