Bronx, NY – Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) has announced that he is introducing legislation to protect the rights of consumers to review products and services. While most businesses have recognized the growing importance of consumer reviews, both online and elsewhere, in providing feedback to businesses and information to potential customers, some have sought to restrict customer reviews by including provisions that limit or prohibit a customer from voicing their opinions about the business’s products or services. These provisions, often included in lengthy contracts, may not be obvious or fully understood by the consumer. Assemblyman Dinowitz’s legislation would ban businesses from including such provisions.
Assemblyman Dinowitz said, “Public comments and reviews are quickly becoming an essential part of how consumers make purchasing decisions in the 21st century. The ability to express honest opinions about goods and services, both good and bad, empowers consumers and encourages businesses to create the best possible product, which benefits everyone.”
“Yet there are some businesses that seek to suppress the voices of their customers through restrictive, little-discussed provisions in contracts,” Assemblyman Dinowitz continued. “That is why I am introducing a bill to prevent businesses from prohibiting their customers from publishing reviews, thereby ensuring that consumers will have the right to both write and read honest opinions about goods and services before purchasing them.”
The legislation would prohibit all attempts to limit consumer reviews, but would levy additional fees for “willful, intentional, or reckless violation” of the law. The practice of limiting a consumer’s rights to publish reviews was struck down by a New York Court (People v. Network Assoc., INC), but a ban on such actions has not been placed into statute in New York. Similar legislation was recently enacted in California.