Obama Protects Right To Leave Bad Yelp Reviews, Talk Smack Online

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Rarely is President Obama afforded the chance to both protect American rights and throw a bone into Donald Trump's gilded doghouse. That bone is the Consumer Review Freedom Act, passed last week by Congress, Engadget reports. The law allows consumers protection against backlash by rendering "certain clauses of a form contract void if it prohibits, or restricts, an individual from engaging in a review of a seller's goods, services, or conduct."

Basically, you can blast people on Yelp without being sued. That should be good news for Trump, who will be our first internet commenter President. The law comes in the wake of high profile incidents in which guests were asked to sign contracts levying monetary penalties if they talked smack on the internet. Charleston, South Carolina's Grill 225, for example, became famous for asking parties of five or more to sign a contract that charged them $50 for a missed reservation and specified that they would be held legally liable for leaving a negative review. A Hudson, New York, wedding venue, sought to charge newlyweds $500 for each negative review their guests left online.

The bill empowers the FCC and individual states to take action against venues that try to enact such contracts.

Yelp, which called on Congress to pass the bill, praised the step.

"While these clauses aren't everywhere, when people hear about them, it does create a chilling effect and that's something we've been concerned about and were very glad that Congress has taken steps to eliminate," Yelp Director of Public Policy Laurent Crenshaw told NBC News.

TripAdvisor also had good things to say about the law.

"TripAdvisor strongly believes in the right to write," Brad Young, TripAdvisor's assistant general counsel, NBC News. "Some companies, rather than trying to provide great service, have instead tried to silence their critics in an effort to improve their online reputations and that's something that goes against everything we stand for."
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