November 30, 2016

GOOD: It will soon be illegal to punish customers who criticize businesses online.

The Consumer Review Fairness Act — full text available here — voids any provision in a form contract that prohibits or restricts customers from posting reviews about the goods, services, or conduct of the company providing the product or service. It also voids provisions that impose penalties or fees on customers for posting online reviews as well as those that require customers to give up the intellectual property rights related to such reviews. The legislation empowers the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the new law and impose penalties when necessary.

The bill also protects reviews that aren’t available via the Internet.

Senate Republicans and Democrats praised the bill’s passage. “By ending gag clauses, this legislation supports consumer rights and the integrity of critical feedback about products and services sold online,” Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said in the announcement.

These gag-order “agreements” are unAmerican.

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