Posted: 1/10/2017


On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed into law the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016”. This law makes it more difficult for businesses to sue consumers over negative reviews.

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On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed into law the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016”.  This law makes it more difficult for businesses to sue consumers over negative reviews. The law was enacted in response to an increase of “gag clauses” threatening lawsuits and punitive monetary damages from businesses against a consumer for providing an unfavorable review. These gag clauses prohibit consumers from leaving their honest feedback about the business for fear of litigation. This in turn interferes with the public’s access to straightforward information about a business, its services, or their products.

Under the Act, any provision in a form contract is void if it restricts a party’s ability to leave reviews, imposes penalties for leaving negative reviews, or transfers intellectual property rights in reviews or feedback contact to the other party in the contract. The Federal Communications Commission and states can now take legal action against businesses who continue to use these “non-disparagement clauses” in their form contract.

The law does not apply to contracts between employers and their employees and independent contractors. It also doesn’t stop businesses from pursuing civil lawsuits for breach of confidentiality, defamation, slander or libel. Lastly, it doesn’t prohibit a business from removing reviews from their own site that they deem defamatory, obscene, explicit, harassing, false, or misleading, or reviews that are unrelated to the goods or services offered by the business.

Business Consumer Alliance has always believed that consumers have the right to leave their sincere candid feedback on a business, their products, and/or services without fear of retaliation. Our review format allows consumers to do just that and also allows businesses to address any reviews that are posted about them. Visit BCA’s website to see recent reviews, check out a specific business’s reputation, and to leave your opinion on a company or their service. Reviews aid the public in making informed decisions on whether or not to use a company’s services and, in many cases, may save someone from having a negative experience.

About Business Consumer Alliance

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.

Tags: new laws, reviews

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