The Senate Commerce Committee advanced legislation Wednesday aimed at protecting the right of consumers to leave negative online reviews about businesses.
The Consumer Review Freedom Act, which passed the panel in a voice vote, would bar the use of contractual gag clauses that prohibit consumers from saying anything disparaging about the business, including in an online review.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who sponsored the bill, argued that such clauses “stifle free and honest speech” and “decrease consumer power.”
At a hearing on the issue earlier this month, Jennifer Palmer, an Oregon woman, testified that her husband had bought Christmas gifts from an online retailer called KlearGear. After the gifts never arrived and the company didn’t respond to their complaints, Palmer left a critical review of the company on RipoffReport.com.