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Tech Fights To Protect Free Speech

Senate passage last week of CISA legislation caused an uproar in the tech industry. Are companies now revving up another fight: saving online reviews?


The Consumer Electronics Association rallied members—such as Yelp, Zenefits and R Street Institute—and headed to Capitol Hill this week to talk to congressional staff, businesses and advocacy groups about lawsuits that try to stop people from reviewing products and services, especially those that may appear negative. They’re known as “strategic lawsuits against public participation” or SLAPPs and take the form of defamation or business interference tort suits. DC and 28 states, including Maryland, have laws protecting people from these lawsuits. But the group wants federal legislation to protect all online users from SLAPPs. Yelp policy director Laurent Crenshaw (above) says 70% of online shoppers use a review site before making a purchase, which makes for better purchasing decisions and better responses from businesses.