On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the House of Representatives passed H.R.5111, better known as the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.
The Consumer Review Fairness Act is a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting consumers who criticize businesses online. More specifically, the legislation is aimed at prohibiting businesses from inserting language in “form contracts” with customers—essentially non-disparagement clauses in customer agreements—that limits the ability of customers to speak (negatively) about businesses’ goods and services.
Some businesses utilize these clauses—which some refer to as “gag orders”—to preemptively avoid negative reviews, perhaps even burying the language in the agreements.
In December 2015, the Senate passed the Consumer Review Freedom Act, a bill similar to the Consumer Review Fairness Act. Now, H.R.5111 will return to the Senate for consideration.
The next step after the Senate would be for the President to sign the legislation into law.