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Congressman Fights For Yelpers' Right to Rant

One congressman is fighting fearlessly on behalf of Yelpers everywhere. Rep. Eri Swalwell (Calif.) plans to introduce a bill meant to protect amateur reviewers nationwide from potential legal or financial punishment. According to InTheCapital, Swalwell is proposing the Consumer Review Freedom Act (CRFA) this week which would make it illegal on a federal level for businesses to fine "customers for [writing] negative reviews" online. Previously, the National Journal noted that some businesses would slip "non-disparagement clauses into customer contracts threatening to impose a fine for posting negative comments."

If the Consumer Review Freedom Act passes, it would be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals. The National Journal writes that the bill was inspired by the story of a couple in Utah who were fined $3,500 for "unwittingly violating a retailer's terms-of-sale contract by posting a bad review" — which negatively impacted the couple's credit score. Swalwell noted in a statement that "it's un-American for any consumer to be penalized for writing an honest review" and that he hopes the bill will "put a stop to this egregious behavior so people can share honest reviews without fear of litigation."

The CRFA is very similar to the "Yelp Bill" that was passed into law last week in California. The law states that if a business attempts to force customers to pay a fine for a bad review they could be fined up to $10,000. Review site Yelp was quite pleased with the legislation and wrote in a blog post that the company urges "other states around the country to follow the example that California has set." It looks like Yelp may get its wish sooner rather than later.

· A Bill to Protect Yelp Rants [InTheCapital]
· Congress's Fight for Your Right to Yelp [National Journal]
· California Protects Free Speech Online [Yelp]
· All Yelp Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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