WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Vice Chair of the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee, today joined U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan as he signed off on Lance’s  Consumer Review Fairness Act.  Lance’s consumer protection legislation passed both the House and U.S. Senate and now heads to President Obama.  The legislation will allow Americans to exercise their First Amendment rights regarding consumer experiences without fear of retribution.

This law is about protecting consumers posting honest feedback online.  Online reviews and ratings are critical in the 21st Century and  consumers should be able to post, comment and tweet their honest and accurate feedback without fear of retribution.  Too many companies are burying non-disparagement clauses in fine print and going after consumers when they post negative feedback online.  This will now end,” said Lance.   

In the 21st century economy it is easier than ever for consumers to make informed choices on which business or service to use by consulting websites and apps that publish crowdsourced reviews of local businesses and restaurants.  Consumer reviews are a powerful informational tool because consumers place a high value on the truthful reviews of other consumers.  Some businesses have become frustrated by online criticism and some have employed a questionable legal remedy known as a non-disparagement clause to retaliate against consumers.  These are often buried in fine print.  TheConsumer Review Fairness Act would void any non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts.  It also would ensure companies are still able to remove false and defamatory reviews.

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Lance also wants to maintain the integrity of the online crowdsourcing economy and prevent consumers from assuming online posts aren’t genuine.  “A few months ago I visited Bovella’s Pastry Shoppe in Westfield, N.J.  Bovella’s has the highest Yelp review of any bakery in that part of New Jersey.  The good people at Bovella’s earned that review from their hard work and excellent customer service.  They get a lot of business from people who turn to Yelp for insight on bakeries in town.  This crowdsourcing system thrives because of its integrity. People trust it.  Bad actors who bully consumers are ruining the system that helps Bovella’s prosper.”

Lance has championed a number of consumer protection measures in Congress.  Earlier this month, his Anti-Spoofing Act was passed in the House.  That bill prevents telemarketers from disguising their caller ID in an effort to evade law enforcement or trick consumers.