Daines’ Bill to Protect Consumers from Backlash Over Online Reviews Unanimously Passes Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Steve Daines today applauded the unanimous Senate passage of his legislation to protect consumers who want to write honest online reviews of companies, without fear of financial repercussions from the businesses being reviewed. 

Daines’ bill, S. 2044 – the Consumer Review Freedom Act, would prohibit the use of non-disparagement clauses referred to as “gag clauses,” which are often found in little-read online user agreements. 

“The Senate took an important step forward in protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans who want to provide honest feedback about the products and services they purchase,” Daines stated. “We should encourage competition and let consumers’ voices be heard on a free and open Internet. I’m excited to see the Senate stand united behind this commonsense bill.” 

“We greatly appreciate the Senator’s efforts in this regard,” Montana Consumer Law Center’s Jessie Lundberg stated. “Protecting consumers’ rights to publicly share their experience with a product or service ensures a level playing field in the marketplace. Consumers must be informed if they are to make smart spending decisions, and responsible businesses should welcome customer feedback, not hide behind fine print in a contract to prohibit it. When our clients pay for something, they assume they have the right to speak their mind about it, as they should, because they are the paying customer and deserve that right.”

“By approving the Consumer Review Freedom Act, the Senate has taken a significant step forward to protect consumers from unfair contract terms,” National Association of Consumer Advocates’ Legislative Director Christine Hines stated. “The bill will prevent businesses from using the fine print to restrict customer reviews, which are a helpful online tool when we research and buy products and services in the marketplace. It’s important that Congress eliminate these and other anti-consumer clauses in contracts before they proliferate any further.”

Daines is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Consumer Review Freedom Act. The bill received its first legislative hearing in the Committee on November 4, 2015 and was passed out of the Senate Committee, Science and Transportation Committee on November 18, 2015 on a large bipartisan vote.