Consumers Deserve Free Speech Protection

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Consumers Deserve Free Speech Protection

July 7, 2015

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I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat as often as necessary: I oppose any effort to stifle consumers’ right to freely discuss their honest experiences with providers of home, health and other services.

That’s why I support the concept behind two federal bills, both currently assigned to congressional committees. As yet, they haven’t gotten much attention, but because they would protect consumers’ right to free speech, they deserve it.

A bit of background on the bills:

  • The SPEAK FREE Act of 2015 (H.R. 2304), introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., would essentially give anyone targeted with what’s called a SLAPP suit the ability to have it dismissed in a simpler way than the legal system currently allows. The lawsuits some consumers have faced are called SLAPP, an acronym for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” The hope is that passage of the federal SPEAK FREE bill, which is modeled on existing Texas and California laws, would lead to fewer businesses using lawsuits to silence consumers.
  • The Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 2110), sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., would prohibit the use of so-called “disparagement clauses” in contracts that would restrict a consumer’s ability to communicate about the goods or services the contract covers. The bill is based on an existing California law.

Angie’s List fully supports the right of consumers to speak freely in general, and specifically, about their experiences with service companies. We support the aim of these bills, and believe that everyone benefits – service companies included – when information flows freely. 

Photo by Eldon Lindsay

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