House Passes Bill to Protect Consumer Right to Post Online Reviews
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House Passes Bill to Protect Consumer Right to Post Online Reviews

Consumers can no longer be punished by businesses for writing negative reviews online

September 13, 2016

The House of Representatives has passed a bill protecting consumers who write and post negative reviews online about businesses.

The bill, known as the Consumer Review Fairness Act, bans clauses in contracts between businesses and consumers that would penalize the consumer for writing and posting a negative review of the business online. The Senate has already passed a similar bill.

The Act was supported by review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor as well as by major public interest groups.

"The protection of free speech and expression, both online and off, should be a top priority of our government, and all Americans," Yelp lobbyist Laurent Crenshaw stated. "With a similar bill having already passed the Senate, it is our hope that gag clauses will soon be explicitly prohibited across America by the end of the year."

The House also passed a bill known as the Better Online Ticket Sales Act banning the use of "bots" to buy large numbers of tickets to live events that may later be resold for a higher price. In addition, the bill bans both the selling of software used for such purposes and the selling of tickets that the seller is aware were purchased with the use of a bot.

Numerous people involved in live event staging have been calling for such a ban. Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical Hamilton, lobbied for anti-bot legislation in New York in an op-ed article in June.

"You shouldn't have to fight robots just to see something you love," he wrote.

The bill will now go before a Senate Commerce Committee subcommittee in a hearing about related legislation taking place in the Upper Chamber. Witnesses for the hearing will include the producer of Hamilton, lawyers for StubHub and Pandora, and a representative from athletic conference Big 12.