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Lawmakers want to protect the online freedom to Yelp

Grant Gross | May 6, 2015
If the waiter was rude, your hotel room dirty or the plumber sloppy, you should be able to say so online without fear of getting slapped with a lawsuit.

It's unclear how big of a problem SLAPPs are, said Daniel Castro, vice president at ITIF and co-author of the report.

Exact numbers are hard to track "because nobody says, 'I'm filing a SLAPP,'" Castro said by email. "Similarly, if someone threatens a SLAPP, there may not even be a public record."

However, there have been reports of numerous cases where companies filed lawsuits or threatened to take action against reviewers, he added. "It's important to address this before the problem escalates because we do not want people to believe (falsely) that posting truthful information can get them in trouble," he wrote.

While 28 states have anti-SLAPP laws, a federal law is needed because those laws are not uniform and other states do not have them, Castro said. "We don't want consumers on vacation to have to consult a lawyer before posting a review about the hotel or restaurant they visit," he said.  "Federal legislation would create a national baseline so any consumer no matter where they live or travel in the United States could respond to a SLAPP."

 

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