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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  November 5, 2015 8:00pm-10:01pm EST

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there are people that did that and are worshipping the idol. >> politico reports chris christie failed to make the cut for the main stage. donald trump is scheduled to host nbc's saturday night live which is getting criticism including from loretta sanchez. >> i rise to encourage saturday
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night live to disencouraging donald trump from hosting the show. his divisive and racist rhetoric has very troubling and real-world consequences. respect and dignity is cornerstones for our values. perhaps this blender happened because currently there is no latino cast member on snl and only two in the entire history of snl. i hope the producers will consider how donald trump hosting snl will compromise the intigrity of their show. it will degrade the quality of
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snl humor because racism is isn't funny. it is lazy and cheap. >> coming up, a hearing on sen censoring online reviews. and then a hearing on wild fires across the united states. online consumer reviews and the ways companies try to censor them. jan palmer held the hearing who is in trouble for giving a negative review.
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this is about on hour and 45 minutes. >> morning. this hearing comes to order. today we convene to exam a growing trend affecting consu consumers in the united states. imagine you purchase something online and the product is not what you bargain for. you take to social media to post an account of your experience. you are threatened to immediately take down the review. buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions was a clause prohibiting you from posting a negative review. the sad reality is it is
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happening every day across the country. so-called non disparagement or gag clauses are forced on consumers and used to intimidate them. they are aagainst the people. we focus on increasing broadband adoption and increase the potential of the internet. but stifling contract terms undermine this. we have the ability to free information with whoever you like. what good is information if it has been sanitized to remove criticism. the practice is about a larger entity about constructive critiism. c online review sites and social media have given american
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consumers a tremendous amount of power. consumers place high val ley -- value on the experience of other consumers. do some consumers abuse the internet with false reviews sometimes? sure. but they have the ability to sue for defamation. businesses should be able to offset phony reviews with positive assessments from happy customers. there are a number of growing businesses blocking through gag causes rather than responding negative criticism. we are joined by jan palmer who will share her experience against a company that sought a $3500 penalty because she told the truth about the service. they were able to challenge the abuse in court and persevere. they are far alone from their
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experience. a dentist included a clause in her contract and a report to anything the patient wrote about a dentist. when a patient posted online review about invoicing the company demanded it be taken down. the patient sued the dentist is the court awarded the patient nearly $5,000. another case, a consumer who didn't receive her order from an online retailer informed the company she would report the matter to her credit card company. the company demanded the consumer pay $250 for violations of the fine print terms of sale which prevents a company from threatening to make a public statement about a retailer. the consumer filled a complaint and the court ultimately found in the consumer's favor.
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going a step forward, in a wedding contract one hotel went as far as to inform newlyweds they could be informed if any guest violated a gag clause by leaving a negative review. after this gag clause was reported in the press the company changed their mind. our bill empowers the federal commission to enforce against the provisions.
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the consumer free gag act guarantees provisions against this. i am looking forward to moving the pro-consumer legislation through the committee. we have a great panel here today. >> companies want to muddle consumers. and these companies are using their size and unequal bargaining power to force consumers to sign these take-it-or-leave-it contracts.
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sometimes they are just online pop up items that consumer clicks on to purchase a good or service on the internet. almost no one reads them but they can have major consequences. you are bound by the fine print that lawyers are good at drafting and the idea that some companies are suing or threatening to sue customers for truthfully reviewing their consumer experience because of
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the despairage clauses in the content in the fine print is appalling. in a state like mine, florida, that is dependented on tourism, we want visitors to their their experience. -- dependent -- businesses that do a good job should be rewarded with good comments and those who do not ought to be punished by telling the truth. they are sharing their opinion with other consumers. i think this hearing is timely,
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mr. chairman, because of this issue in your bill brings up also a related issue that needs to be discussed. just a few weeks ago, the los angeles times reported that fiat-chrysler was requiring consumers who wanted to receive on a car, they must in order to get that, sign a mandatory arbstration clause as part of the contract. so if the car is defective and kills or injurs that consumer, as was the case with toyota's sudden acceleration, or gm's faulty ignition switches, or tecata's exploding airbags you cannot seek re-dress because of the take it or leave it
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arbstration clause. this type of provision is outrageous. -- arbitration -- and beyond the automakers themselves, many dealers are trying to use these arbitration provisions to shield themselves. theories these clauses are just another way to avoid accountability by silencing consumers. so yes, consumers ought to be able to write a negative review, consumers should have the ability to seek justice in a court of law when businesses fail to hold up their end of the bargain.
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cannot continue to let people get off scott free. >> thank you, senator nelson. i want to add a couple letters of support for legislation. this is from angie hilary clinton -- angie hicks from angie's list. the internet association applauds today's hearing on the bipartisan bill introduced by several colleagues. american consumer institute, institute for liberty, r-street has a letter of support, and another from a coalition that
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includes yelp and public knowledge and real self among many others. >> we have on the left, the senior vise president for global product at trip ad visor. the president of information and technology foundation. jennifer palmer who is the one who -- one of the named plaintiffs in the case. welcome and great tov you. we will start with mr. medrows and please proceed with your foment. confine it as close to five
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minutes as possible. >> thank for inviting me to testify on what we believe is a an important topic. we very much appreciate your review of infrethe freedom act. i lead a team on trip advisor that is responsible for the collection, moderation, and display of travelers reviews. for those who don't recall what it is like to plan and book a trip prior to the advent of the internet let's rewind. the infrequent nature of travel, and importance we place on vacation was risky. you had to research and plan the trip on your own calling multiple airlines and hotels to check availability, or rely on a travel agent looking at b
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brochures. the internet has improved this decision. a poplar tactic among businesses is to use contractual leverage to silence critics. this harms reviews, those seeking transparency through other's experience, and those businesses playing by the rules. trip advisor host more than 250 million reviews covering more than 5 million visitors. we encourage members to share opinions, good or bad, on experiences at hotels,
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restaurants and attractions and strongly believe in their right to do so. we give all businesses the right to respond to reviews in order to insure consumers are given both sides of the story. we are far from the only source of consumer reviews. americans are returning to websites to educate themselves and purchasing decision on everything from what doctor to visit to whom they should hire to remodel their kitchen. 70% of shoppers rely on online reviews more making a purchase. in the uk, 54% of adults rely on reviews and 70% of online shoppers found them to be more important than anything else. consumer reviews are a critical part of today's marketplace. consumer reviews are so open.
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this is a means to get critical reviews removed or stop them from getting submitted. even those who read the clauses lack the leverage to have them reviewed. the intention behind the clauses is always the same: to gag negative opinions. the exact language varies. examples we have received from travelers include since bad reviews are detrimental we place a fine. if the hotel receives a poor review and is out of context or control of the hotel management
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a fine of $300 is charged on the credit card on file. dealing with companies and individua individuals. trip advisor has taken to warning travelers of the behavior and this is not a perfect solution and would be improved on the chairman's review act. this goes against everything we stand for. just as the consumer can tell family and friends about the business in offline world, she has the right to share the experience online allowing businesses and other customers to learn and benefit there from. whether -- when a business has a
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gag orderer, everyone is harmed. even the business, doing the silence is harmed and loses the opportunity to gain from the experience of others. these types of clauses serve no purpose. we look forward to working with you and the entire committee ensure american consumers are not prohibited from sharing their experience online or on internet. >> mr. nelson. >> thank you. i appreciate being able to come before you to talk about the non-disparagement clauses. the information technology foundation is focused on policies to enable the internet economy to thrive.
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i want to raise three issues. the first is about economic theories and the economics behind this. there is long been a view in economics that are over the situation. when you go to a hotel, you don't know anything about the hotel other than what you see but the hotel knows everything. this market is asymetric information. they are under-performing economic welfare for everyone. consumers and the overall economy. economic research found that if
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markets don't perform effectively, if buyers can't accurately assess the product or value of the service before buying it. you go to a hotel and have no idea you cannot make an informed decision. second, if an incentive exist for the seller to pass off a low quality service as a high quality one, clearly as the example shown that incentive exist for some sellers. where they have a good time improving the probability. and fourth there is a deficiency of public quality assurance. it is hard to find independent asse assessment of quality. that is why online rating tools are so important. they are essentially the tool to solve this age old problem that bedevilled economic problems. they solve the problem because they provide a public quality
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assurance of that and let people know why and when there is poor quality. the second point is the issue of preemption. in many of these cases, trip advisor hotel reviews in florida, many are non-florida residents. a state might say we want to protect businesses not allowing this but they are hurting consumers all around because consumers everywhere use and contribute to these. it is a clear justification for
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federal action. the third would be what about the possible harms to businesses where there is a bad review. i think it has been pointed out that this bill would not prohibit companies from already using existing legal tools for defamation. it actually turns out that gets them better results with consumers because consumers believe the manager of the company is taking consumer complaints seriously and they are more likely to trust this. this was a study, for example, recently about hotels and found that regardless of whether reviews were neutral or
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negative, they began to receive higher ratings from guest after hotel managers started to respond to feedback. i have heard that from hotel managers when we did a study on hotels. they go out now and tell the managers they should respond online because it brings back trust. so i don't think we should worry too much about that. when there are cases of defamation and lies they are other methods. we support this legislation and believe it is very important online. thank you. >> next up is ms. palmer. share your story. >> chairman thune, ranking member nelson, and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify.
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my family's experience with being bullied over a negative review shows why we need this legislation. my husband ordered a couple trinkets that came to less than $20. they failed to arrive and we contacted the company from phone and e-mail. we never received a call but got an e-mail saying payment was never received. i posted a review and we moved on. john got an e-mail from clear gear demanding my review be removed within 24 hours we're we would be fined $3500 from the cause that quote banned taking action that negatively impacts
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clear gear didn't exist when we ordered the item and the fact john didn't write the review didn't matter. the clause didn't appear until three years after my review was post-ed. we were shocked and scared. i spent hours researching how to remove the review but the website had a policy of not removing them. john spent time explaining this couldn't be removed, the non disparage clause didn't exist and he didn't write the review. they responded writing they would send us to collection for $3500. three months later, it appeared on his credit report. we immediately disputed the debt with the credit burrows with no success. clear gear e-mailed us admitting they had confirmed the debt as valid. we cannot afford for hire an
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attorney. it would me be more than 18 months before john's credit was clean again. we only use financing for large purchases like cars in 2008 and 2011, our house in 2009 and medical bills not covered by insurance. this caused us constant anxiety, fear and humilitation when people asked who is clear gear and why do you owe them $3500. because of the problems we were denied a credit card, delayed on a loan and deterred from buying a new home that would move us closer to workplaces. the worst came when we were denied emergency financing to replace a broken furnace. we were desperate wrapping our three year old son in blankets with temperatures dropping near freezing. i was terrified and too afraid to tell anyone for fear social services could take him away.
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we had to cut every expense and we were able to buy a basic furnace with cash at the end of the month. i contacted a reportt in salt lake city who did a segment on our plight and got us in contact with public citizen who represented us suing clear gear. they helped clear up john's credit and we won a default judgment. they never bothered to even show up. throughout the ordeal, we only wanted two things. all traces of the actions be cleared from john's credit and to do everything we could to insure nobody else ever had to experience the nightmare we encountered. we want congress to ban this disparadi despa
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despadi despa despadi despa despairage clause. we are not the only ones who fell guilty to this. this needs to stop. companies should earn reputation honestly with good products and services. i urge you to pass a bill that inhibits the causes and provides robust enforcement of the law. >> thank you for sharing that and be willing to share the story with us.
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>> i appreciate the opportunity to talk about how congress can protect consumer reviews. consumers reviews are important to the economy. mark markets are stronger when consumers share experiences and guide consumers toward the best experience and away from poor ones. some businesses try to suppress reviews from customers. these efforts are not legit. the freedom act insures every consu consu consumer can add their voice to the discourse. there are precedent to support existing laws protect consumers but i will explore two reasons why i think we need the consumer
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review act. it is not clear if courts will enforce anti review clauses. i use that to describe what other people are calling gag contracts or non-disparage clauses. many judges will refuse to enforce the clauses because of the public policy or reason but judges also don't like to override contractual provisions so they are not guarantee to failed. i want to talk about a vacation rental contract that required tenants to agree they would not quote use blogs or websites for complaints anonymously or not. we don't know how many consumers were prepared by the clause from sharing their experience but we do know that two tenants did pose public reviews of the
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vacation rental. the court held reviews were not defamitory but they may have breached the contract. this means the anti-review clauses exposed the tenants from liability for sharing the review. the consumer liability ability will allow vacation tenant and other customers have legal certainty to speak up. we also need this act because businesses are looking at ways to shape their online appearance. anti review clauses will keep proliferating unless banned. the experience of the health care industry illustrates how that might happen. in the late 2000 a company called medical justice sold form
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contracts to doctors and health care professionals that contained anti-review clauses. the sales pitch to doctors and health care professionals was elge elgee elgent. i would guess over a million americans signed such provisions. medical justice changed their position in 2011 and told consumers to stop using the form even in 2015 it can be hard to find robust numbers of patient reviews. the health care industry adoption of care may seem to be extreme, we are likely to see
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affects dominated by other businesses and service providers. these self identities are linked to their professional reputation. negative feedback about their business feels like it reflects upon them as an individual. if a vacation tenant didn't like the decor the landlord may take that against her taste in decorating. small business owners and professional service providers will be attracted to anti review clauses to prevent the public ego blows. therefore without the consumer review freedom act other industries will embrace the clauses like the health care industry did and we as consumers will be poor for this. consumer reviews will be thrilled. i want to thank you for your work on this bill and the opportunity to share my views. >> thank you very much.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman thune, ranking member nelson and members of the committee. this morning i would like to make three points. no one has been paying attention over the decades as consumer rights have been stripped away where unseen forecast of contracts have been disparaged by the growth of the clauses. the idea behind the legislation is a good one and fits intro a long history of legislation action designed not only to protect consumers but our market economy. and as of now, we are unable to support this bill because it seeks to limit the enforcement rights of state and federal officials. when i see non-disparagement clauses i see the logical conclusion of a decades long corporate effort to strip consumers of another fundamental right. consumers are typically required to wave all sorts of rights
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including the right to seek relief in the justice system and now the right to even speak. the use of non-negotiable contracts, people have been stripped of the 7th amendment right of a jury trial and why should we be surprised businesses want to do the same to consumers first amendment right? i would be the clauses that wave fundamental rights would be unconstitutional.
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we are passed a wide variety of laws on this ground, the ftc act states the laws were created with the understanding our communicator economy wouldn't function properly if we had unfair trade practice. federal and state regimes exist because it is based on the fact
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consumers make informed decisions. the fair credit reporting act was passed the full recognition that credit decisions made on the base of faulty information undermine the vitality of the consumer economy. the idea to ban non disparagement clauses stands under the market protection statutes. we only function properly when unfair practs is exposed. it is made available for consumers to use and ignore in the decision-making progress. while protections are essential for consumer marketplace to function, the mere passage is not enough to insure the rule of law is complied with. strong enforcement of the statutes by regulators is
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essential to have the law in affect. with limited and ever declining budgets and staff these important public servants have sought ways to maximize ability to protect state citizens and economy. they are working across statelines in a bipartisan matter and that is essential to getting justice far beyond what is possible if the work was limited. similarly the partnership of some attorney generals have formed with experience and capable private attorneys has led to a measure of justice and consumer relief otherwise not attainable. if we want attorney generals to enforce the law, congress shouldn't limit the state officials from choosing how they best and protect consumers in their own state. we support the idea behind
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s-244. there is no place in the american economy for denying consumers to right to speak freely about their experience in the marketplace. for a consumer marketplace statue be effective it must be enforceable. it limits regulators from using all of the enforcement tools we cannot support it. if this provision is removed we would offer full support. >> thank you. we appreciate your comments on the legislation. i will start and ybt i want to ask you, we have been through a harrowing ordeal i would say before winning in court. most people would have given up but you persisted and kept
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fighting. >> the only thing we wanted to happen was for my husband's credit to be cleaned so we could move on with our lives. we really did want to make sure this never happened to anybody else ever again. we never dreamed it would come this far. i am pleased you are looking at pushing through legislation on
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the government level. >> you testified one of the purposes of the gag clauses is to bully and intimidate consumers into removing negative reviews. you testified how clear gear's demand for $3500 shocked and scared you. i guess i am wondering if you experience with clear gear has given you pause about posting reviews for other products? >> absolutely not. i continue to post reviews for companies that give wonderful service and great products to let other consumers know you should by from this company. and for companies that fell short of the mark and didn't fall through. >> i guess after what you experienced with clear gear it cannot get worse.
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>> i would hope not. >> amazon recently sued a number of companies that allegedly facilitate fake reviews online on the other side. do you see other large internet companies taking measures to cleanup online reviews to make sure the consumers are getting accurate and authentic information? >> absolutely. let me first thank you for inviting us and pushing this legislation forward. we think it is incredibly important. without a doubt, we see businesses in the hospitality industry attempt to silence critics of their services and this plays out across a number of other industries you mentioned. amazon case we have seen, we have seen it with yelp in trying
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to push reviewers to remove comments and reduce the severity of their comments or to outright bury those comments with other content and more positive comments. >> professor, i thought you made a great point in your testimony when discussing how consumer reviews make markets stronger and more efficient because they help guide consumers to the best products or services. to what degree do you think gag clauses maybe distorting the market and do you think most consumers are aware of what is going on? >> i think the contract clauses are only a small part of a larger problem. there are disincentives to share opinions about the businesses they deal with. each of them are a friction point or wedge in their willingness to share. ms. palmer here said proudly that she hasn't been bullied off
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the internet but most consumers don't have the confidence she has. gag clauses are just one way businesses can threaten consumers to get them to not only stifle themselves but remove the legit reviews. other tools is threatening defamation and saying we will sue you and take you to court if you don't remove it and that is why i would call your attention to the things like the federal anti-slap law that has been considered. that is another tool to protect consumers from having reviews driven off the internet. >> my time is expired. i will turn to senator nelson. >> ms. palmer, i am sorry you had to go through this experience. was it when you went to the t station and it started getting publicity, is that when you
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decided to go into court because you are listed as the plaintiff in palmer versus clear gear? >> we had been seeking legal help before going to the media. i had contacted several lawyers, done a lot of legal research online to find out what my options were. for all of the lawyers i spoke to and said do we have a case, i said yes, we do. i said can you represent us, and they said oh, no, we are not touching that with a ten-foot pole. it was shady and big and most didn't want to touch it. it wasn't until after we spoke to the media, i was hoping to find a lawyer that was willing to step forward and that is when public citizen came forward and said we can help you, we want to help you and we have the means and resources to do so. >> well that is good news. mr. medrose, i want to look
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other the side. tell us about evidence of bad actors trying to take advantage of businesses by threatening to post a false-negative complaint. >> there are certainly some instances where consumers threaten a business with a negative review, threaten to share their experience online, and we encourage businesses to monitor properties for the instance of negative reviews. in the vast majority of negative reviews they never appear are and empty threats. second, one of the tenants of trip advisor is to allow businesses to respond to any
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consumer review. we believe that transparency will solve this problem. consumers write reviews, businesses get to respond, and future consumers get to read responses, the back and forth between the two parties, and make their own decision and weigh their own believes about if this is the right decision to visit. this isn't a large problem. >> you encourage the businesses if there is a false review to contact you. would this legislation prevent what i can tell you is that i don't believe that it will prevent businesses from interacting with trip advisor and asking reviews to be reviewed.
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we do employ an entire staff and look at every review where an owner or another member of the community flags it as inappropriate against our guidelines or perhaps irrelevant. >> at the end of the day, i think what we want is the access to the courts for whoever is the agreed party. the consumer or the business. and in the case of ms. palmer, apparently it was her access to the court. should we be doing something to
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protect consumers from more than just the non-despanon-disparage causes? >> the way consumers can seek readdress is through our public court system. a lot of stories and bad damages done, if they don't have access, ms. palmer's story is compelling and the press picked it up. sometimes you need to go to court and publicize this. what fiat did is happening in every place. it has gotten sanctions. with fiat, there is a reward for signing it away. most people are signing without knowing about it. it has been in clauses, shrink wrap, arbitration clauses are
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everyone in the economy. there is a dual justice system where consumers don't have access to the courts wherever they enter into any agreement with any type of business. >> this committee has seen a proliferation of these things recently. fiat is just one example. the gm ignition switches and so forth. >> thank you for your comments. these things that are subject to mandtory arbstration or adhesion, you would really lose a lot of your ability. we have caught off the aggrieve or the agriever into the court.
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>> the bill does, by the way, say defamation cases can proceed. we don't do anything to impinge on that right. senator mccaskill and blunt are basking in the kansas city royal win. >> we had hardly anyone in the party show up. >> it begs the question why are you here? >> there are not many people in kansas. >> i tried to have a bet with the senator from new york and the offer was i would offer kansas city bbq if you agreed not to talk for 45 minutes. we accepted your bet. many missourians have loyalty. and finally, we are wearing blue
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and you are wearing red. >> i will not go into the history of the teams in kansas city, missouri. but i will be glad to acknowledge we are welcoming all of the fans from kansas. >> she is a loyal cardinal fan. >> i am. you are up. >> thank you very much. i am pleased senator thune has, in an effort to get a bill we can agree on, agreed to take out the provision that limits to tools available to attorney general as it relates to contingency fees. i am assuming there was an agreement with the lawyers that ultimately represented you in this case? >> unfortunately, public citizen as a non-profit was kind enough to work with us pro-bono since we could not afford legal representsation on the scale we needed -- representation --
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others said they would not touch it and i said what you have wrote a seize and desist letter or helped a little they were offering thousands. >> of course. it is hard for an individual to get to court unless there is a contingency fee agreement. >> even with that they said we want a retainer. and we said if we don't have $3500 to pay clear gear we don't have it for you. >> i will admit i am a chicago cubs fan so i am a little disappointed but congrats. consumer statutes, particularly the fair credit reporting act, has fee shifting provisions. attorneys who take a case like the fair credit reporting case would not have to charge ms. palmer. they only get paid if they win that case and the court will
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award them damages after they successf successfully win the case. it is a little different from cont contingency. this provides access to consumers when they have been damaged like ms. palmer. >> so did public citizen recover the cost even of their litigation? >> we are still working on tracking clear gear down to recover any cost. >> so you haven't collected yet? >> no, ma'am. >> are they still in business? >> as far as i know, yes. >> ugh. that drives me crazy. >> it should be noted that in the judgment award the judge did award us our settlement and tact on the lawyers' fees for public citizen as well. so if and when anything every is collected -- which is the fee
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shifting he was referring to? >> right. >> but if you lost, they would not have gotten anything. >> true. >> and that was always an issue/fear. however, with any of the other lawyers they were not interested on the contingency bases. they wanted a retainer. >> that is one of the problems where we try to fund lawsuits where there is a complaint but the damages don't appear to be enough to warrant the risk of the lawyer taking it on. that is one of the advantages these big companies have. they know it is small enough. there is two things a lawyer has to have to bring a lawsuit. one is liability and the second is damages. and how large the damages are is relevant to whether or not they want to take on the costly risk of going forward with the lawsuit which does even the playing field, i think in some
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ways, too much in favor of the big guys. let me talk to you about the use of service. i know who drafts this stuff. they are lawyers. this is -- how many people are reading this that go on trip ad visors? >> i would imagine very few. >> so what is the point? if we know nobody is reading it why are we not working at knack making this -- have you thought about making a stab of making
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the terms of service as forthcoming and clear as the rest of your website? >> we would welcome making privacy clear. we take it seriously in giving us the ability to moderate our content according to our guidelines. i believe that in the case of a bill like this, what you often see is a precedent, and a set of standards set for how terms of use and privacy are conveyed to consumers.
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that would have prevented me, i didn't purchase the items, i wanted to make sure there was nothing preventing me from posting the review versus my
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husband. i did go through it several times. when they came back three years later and said i violated the clause, i looked at my husband and said that did not exist. there was no clause. speaking did you read those agreements? that's impressive. >> my neighbor in the south,. >> thank you mr. chairman, professor goldman, you mentioned that small businesses in particular may make use of these clauses as many of them view it as personal and they get negative feedback. i am on the small business committee in the senate, i fully understand how important small business are to the state of nebraska into the economy here in our country. so, while i agree the use of these not despaired clauses is a
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practice that should be discouraged, i would like your views on whether this bill contains sufficient, protections for small businesses out there. you think it does? >> in the end, the goal to create a level playing field for small businesses. in the end there are competitors who are distorting their persona by using these clauses and it is actually hurting the overall market place and the opportunity for businesses to go on their side of the equation. i think the bill is essential for making and preserving the vitality of small business community and making sure markets are open for them to enter. >> do you think those protections are in the spell question work. >> i support this bill as it is drafted. i did write some drafts on how it could be tweaked. i think it deserves further discussion, even if it doesn't
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don't do that i think it will be super helpful. >> thank you, mr. atkinson to have any comments about her small businesses, to believe they are protected under the spell the this bill the way it is drafted? why will we are still making sure to let consumers express their views without being punished you mark. >> i would echo the comments that the damage from these clauses are harming small business competitors who are doing a good job. consumers do not have a job to see who is better. it might hurt a particular small business but help other. >> secondly, there still legal remedies that a company can use if they feel someone is on the line. a bill doesn't prohibit a company for taking action that way. as we said before there's evidence that small businesses are active, small business owner post something because we're concerned about where concerned about that, we don't agree with that review.
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it really can minimize the damage of the company's sincere and what they want to do. >> do think small businesses have the resources where they would be able to respond to those negative comments and i really can't take action? it is hard for consumers to take action. we have heard that, it is difficult, lawsuits or expenses expensive. how do we reach a balance here? >> i think a way a lot of online trading platforms work is you can monitor what people and your customers are saying what a about you. that is something that every business needs to do. you are not going to search the web every day for everything, there are platforms that you should can and should monitor as a small business owner. doing that is not overly burdensome and a quick reply,
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just one minute kind of reply every once in a while. you don't get negative reviews every day. i don't think it's burdensome for companies to do that. i think it is good practice and in the internet age. >> thank you. in the senate version of this bill, we are looking at enforcement of the prohibition on non- disparagement clauses by the federal trade commission. in the house version we have the enforcement by the department of justice, do you have an opinion one way or another on who would be the best position to assume that role? >> i don't have no opinion on that. the person who really leads this work first is daniel castro who has not been able to be here. i would be happy to talk with him and get back to. >> that would be great. thank you for being here. >> thank you senator fisher. >> chairman, thank you very much. thank you for hosting this hearing and pursuing the concepts contained in this legislation. on the topic of small business, i would assume small business
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actually uses reviews as well. they are a consumer. small businesses need information about what business, larger or smaller they may want to deal with and online reviews may be helpful to a small business and making business decisions. while several outline some ideas of how this is harmful or not beneficial, another way is small business cannot make a mistake. it is more difficult to enter into a agreement for purchase with another corporation that turns out to be a bad deal. the consequences are greater and harder to recover from. i assume small businesses also utilize reviews to make purchases and services. people are shaking their head, does anyone want to disagree with that. then, let me ask about state laws. perhaps this is to the professor, california, i think in particular has state laws dealing with this issue?
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>> yes california is the only state. >> others pursuing or considering the? >> i have not done a survey. >> is there anything we could learn from what has transpired from california and away that this law has been written, interpreted or enforced. >> i do not believe there has been any enforcement action. we do not have data part of how it is in the field. it is relatively new so it is early in the process. i will call attention to a statutory damages provision in the california statute that awards consumers who are subject to these clauses to obtain statutory damages. i think that is a topic worth discussion at this committee whether that would be a helpful addition. >> in addition to that suggestion lemmie ask a broader question. while we are focused on non- disparagement clauses, in this world of online reviews, are there other or similar issues that the commerce committee
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should be paying attention to? a couple that have been mentioned previously, fake reviews, false reviews, are there issues that surround this new development? certainly in my life, particularly in a rural, small town resident these reviews occurred. they occurred after church, at the grocery store, at the café, and people in our community would talk about what service they got or didn't get. how the quality of the product was or wasn't. today i suppose the consequences are magnified because of the volume of information that is available. is there something that we're missing as we only look in the legislation as to this issue of non- disparagement clauses? >> if i may, i will reiterate my interest in the federal anti- flax solution. the idea would be to be lawsuits that alleging defamation or other types of harm like that
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that are on the content that would be of social interest to be taught early and to shift if they're illegitimate. so the real way reviews get scrubbed off the internet is not through these clauses. these clauses are problematic but because people who post them are striving to take them off line, like ms. palmer. she could not review them but that was unusual. and all other cases when consumers get those threats the content comes down instantly. the federal anti- flap law would mean that they would not be bullied off of the internet. >> i would just second mr. goldman's point on that. they released a report last year on the issue of anti- flap and that issue it has has on the
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economy commerce. i think we did agree with that. i was it both pieces of legislation are important. >> thank you very much. thank you for this hearing and i apologize for you for intruding in your commentary on the royals. it just really impossible to not have the kansas city battle from the senator from missouri. >> i would have it any other way. >> thank you mr. chairman p ms. palmer thank you for your courage and clarity. i know you have been through a lot. i imagine it has been a difficult several years. we appreciate everything you're doing. your case perfectly illustrates why we need a law because individual consumers are in no position to fight this injustice. your case also shows well we need federal law and a patchwork of individual statues are not going to work.
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my first question is for mr. atkinson, we have been talking a about two things, one that consumers do not know what rights they may be waving as they click i agree or they sign a contract at the hotel desk. another question related to intimidation and admonishing or warning customers against a negative online review. those are different tactical approaches, so which is it that these companies are really employing? are they tricking customers into signing away their rights? or, are they warning customers against negative online review because they cannot be doing both at the same time, it seems to me. >> i think, first off we do not know there really hasn't been enough surveys of this. there are a lot of anecdotes and quite compelling and i have
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heard one here and other folks i've talked that i've talked about. i think there's a lot there i we don't know exactly which strategy companies are using more of. i think one of the reasons this bill is so important is it's not just the fact that even if there were no laws, if people think they are being gone after, we are at a point that if we do not sell the problem soon, there could be something to most consumers minds where he gives it gives them a little bit of doubt and fear. well i heard of someone getting sued, i am not going to take the risk. you hear someone contributing a review, there been a public being a public citizen. they're contributing to the public good, they're taking their time. then i tried to help themselves. if we have a collective climate here then people are not good to be up to do it. >> fair enough, but it does point out that we are operating at the beginning of this problem. therefore, we are lacking good
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decision-support on exactly the size and scope of the problem. speaking of that, does anyone on the panel know primarily if these clauses are being employed by small or large enterprises? it seems to me that is a pretty important question to. i two. i would imagine the reputational risks of a big national and international brand would probably cause bigger companies not to utilize these, but i would like to know whether some of the bigger companies are using them? does anybody know? >> i don't think trip advisors seize any evidence one way or another. small businesses up to potentially large businesses want to in effect, distort consumer opinions on line. by getting negative reviews withheld. >> let me move on to the way trip advisor work in terms of, you have a pop-up screen that
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warns consumers if there's a particular hotel or travel company that has a non- disparagement clause, is that correct. >> that is correct. we put a red badge on the property warning consumers so they can make an informed decision as to whether to day there. >> how do you figure out whether the company has a non- disparagement clause? is that based on consumer complaints or do you have a process internally, because i would imagine it was a resource question for you to have a team of lawyers scrubbing all of their individual contracts. is it just based on if something pops up then you notify the public? >> it is based on consumers reporting that to us and then us investigating. that speaks more so why we need this legislation. we only see a small percentage of these contracts that may exist. some consumers may not notice the clause, or may be too fearful to report it. so widespread and banishment of
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these clauses is important. >> i think that is the most important point here with respect to whether or not there's a private sector and sort of internet -based solution. it seems to me there is not without a statue. you just can't make the trip advisor or anyone else responsible for reviewing legal language in any company that may or may not be mentioned on your platform. >> i would wholeheartedly agree. it would be a game of whack a mole. >> thank you. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mr. chairman, this is really an treating subject today. i spent a number of years with customer experience, we are selling to organizations that touched hundreds of thousands of consumers. as you suggest the customer is in charge, we know that now, now
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it is a cliché. but i think feedback is a gift. i think it is insecure companies like bullies on a playground are insecure, would have these anti- disparagement clauses. welcome to the free market and the internet, let's compete and let the consumer has its voice. frankly, i think it is condescending to consumers to suggest that the consumer -- i think consumers can weed through , let the consumer sort that out is my view on it. recognizing there still a problem with companies that, some companies posting false claims to prop it up. competitors posting claims that are disparaging. having said that, i can tell you that in montana's viewpoint, tourism is one of our largest business. $4 billion.
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people are going on mine, they are booking trips, they are relying on online reviews. i spoke to a small business owner a few weeks ago, and ask your place in montana. how is your summer? best summer ever. i said why? is that we had it online reviews. people went and they found us. yellowstone national park has a 4.5 out of five rating on yelp. a little advertising there. anyway, i guess i am curious about how we ought to approach fake, online reviews. is there best practices, whether businesses are paying for positive reviews or competitors who are writing false, negative reviews. curious, can you share some best practices, policies, procedures, that you would recommend that should be used to come back fake , online reviews question what.
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>> so a few things. your first point of about consumers becoming more sophisticated, they are becoming more sophisticated. they know there are bad reviews and good reviews. as people get more comfortable with the internet economy they will be able to assist through that. in terms of what companies are doing, companies like yelp and others who have sophisticated algorithms, they have software engineers, data scientist to use technologies to plague these reviews that are at high risk of being false. then taking them off automatically. there are companies in technology now that companies are employing that simply those reviews will never be posted. >> i would like to first point out that no matter how big the problem is with fake reviews, anti- review clauses are never the solution. so, this i think it is a
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legitimate concern. i want to stress how important this bill is irrespective of any concern someone has a fake reviews. with fake reviews we should recognize that consumer reviews are still relatively new phenomenon. we can take them back maybe as may be as far as 20 years ago. the modern consumer review of the economy is maybe a dozen years old. if you think about it in those terms, we are seeing the evolution of reviews in developing better and more aggressive techniques and managing consumer reviews. in the end, they are the solution. we need to have trustworthy platforms for reviews. we need to see improvement on that front every day. >> i work for procter worked for procter & gamble for 12 years, you think about the incredible valuable data. you pay a lot of money to focus groups were. now we get it in real time, on edited, right at the face of the consumer experience. that's why these disparagement
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clauses and we need to deal with that. this is part of the new economy, this is a gift i think. if you want to become a world-class company, embrace it. >> we see over and over again stories like you told, businesses in remote places and places that consumers would not have thought of traveling to or would not have had the courage to travel to pre-internet. in fact, the best businesses leverage a platform like a trip advisor to embrace consumer reviews and use it as a free marketing tool, to encourage people to share their opinion and set their expectation of what the triple be like so that you feel safe to venture to some of these more remote places that are amazing experiences. we hear this over and over again for business owners. what makes that possible is the scale of our platforms.
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the free ability for consumers to share their opinions without being sued by owners who may not like every piece of feedback. the best businesses hate that feedback on an ongoing basis and make their business better. they improve their service, they change things about their property. they remodel, they view that as feedback tool that would otherwise companies would have paid millions of dollars for. >> thank you. >> thank you senator. in our line of work we get plenty of feedback. >> we do. >> i'm going to embrace the idea that it is a gift. >> all staff of your facebook, you step a mind. >> in mind. >> fair enough. >> thank you. senator from minnesota. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. i was thinking the exact same thing when you said it was a gift. i was thinking of some of the hilarious tweets and facebook
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post that i get, i won't go into them right now but i collect them because they are so amusing. this is a very important bill and i want to thank the chairman and senator for the work they have done on this, i guess i start with ms. palmer, your experience sounds like quite an ordeal, i read about it. the scale of the cause was initially a 20-dollar purchase is astounding. your persistence in finding a solution is extraordinary. in response to the initial demand to take on the review before they made the negative reports to the credit rating agency, how much time we just meet you in your time spent researching a responding to the demand question i. >> it was several hours, between i had chosen a seemingly at random, so to find
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out they do not allow reviews to come down it took me several hours to find out what options i had. to the point of actually e-mailing them and say here's my problem, i'm now being bullied, what options do i have? they had to respond to me and spell out and say, well this is what our policy and link it languages little convoluted. we don't allow you to take it down and here's why. we want to make sure that people are free to post a review without feeling bullied and without feeling like they can take it down, without allowing businesses to remove it. so it was several hours. >> so this is a supple question, do you think most consumers are likely to be as persistent as the palmers in response to threats from companies seeking to enforce non- disparagement clauses? what will likely have been if they are not. >> the palmers story is
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remarkable. i wish all consumers acted like she did. it was quite amazing. most people give up, because they are not to pursue they'll do whatever they can to move on with their lives, they're not going, they won tried to seek legal help and she couldn't get it. they were just walkway from the problem. probably, like ms. palmer, stop poster reviews. that would really have a chilling effect from consumers to doing it again. i think mrs. palmer is unique and we should applaud her for her behavior. >> very good, thank you. remember i once had a similar thing with a bill and i found some people who have pursued things like ms. palmer did and to talk about, is like cramming in phone bills, it was was a lutheran minister and a math teacher, they had gone to the depths to see these tiny little charges that added up over time. you are in good company i guess.
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i understand the concerns of small business owners who worry that unfair or frost reviews can hurt their livelihood. was it you mr. atkinson who cited a study showing that one star increase in the restaurants rating at yelp can lead to a five to 9% increase in revenue. to put a less rosy star, one star decrease a one star decrease can have serious consequence of the bottom line. besides non- disparagement clauses what tools do you think small business owners have to address on fair or false reviews question. >> will first of all, and the share of these ratings they are accurate reviews so the most important thing in restaurant could do is to improve their service or their quality of their food or whatever else they are getting a bad review. again, few people said that is valuable information for company to continuously's improve their service. secondly, lot of these platforms
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including yelp, trip advisor have mechanisms in place where you can challenge reviews that have been bad but not taken someone to court, thirdly, companies can and do post and say we do not agree with this review and here's why. or here's why agree with it and here's why. >> i was looking at some last night, not in preparation for this hearing but, i would like to say it was. but what incentives do you think companies like trip advisor's have to limit on parables reviews question. >> we give consumers the ability to share all of their experience and the intent to ultimately, when we hear about limits to free speech, is to warn and penalize businesses that tried to kill that speech. >> and professor goldman, does your research show what mr. mr. woodrow just talked about
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question i. >> i'm sorry which aspects. >> will he talked about the fact there is incentive for companies to limit on parables reviews. >> i'm sorry, you're talking about review sites. they are the mechanism for providing feedback to the marketplace. they themselves compete in the marketplace to be reputable and persuasive. in fact, we hear competition on these sites to convince their consumers that they are trustworthy. that competition actually is a great incentive to fight against the review. >> alright. all right. thank you for all of you. >> thank you mr. chairman, i want to check thank the chairman for lending his support against this new, ingenious wrinkle in the age-old practice and tries
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to give new meaning to hidden tricks and traps and discourage consumers from informing and warning others. these sorts of sneaking sentences and paragraphs essentially gag them from giving services or goods a negative view. when they pay for, their disappointed in it and they want to warn other consumers. usually they are buried in the fine print of the sales contract, and invoice, they are a one way racket. they post negative reviews but not positive. so from an economic standpoint
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they distort the free marketplace. i am supporter of a nonpartisan bill that has been announced, i want to thank him for engaging with me on this bill, my initial arose from the original language of the bill which included a statement related to the attorney general that was concerning to me as i for me attorney general. i believe the language will be removed when we moved to a markup and so i'm a proud supporter of this bill. the attorney general has a vital and vigorous role in protecting consumers and adding to the resources and intellectual way of the federal government. i very much appreciate the chairman's understanding in that regard.
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some will raise the question, why'd we need a federal law? the answer is, quite simply the standardized antidefamation provisions may be considered for under boyd under state law but there are number throughout the country and they confuse consumers because consumers have to go to different state laws to know if there are valid in one state or another state. i would like to simply say that making these per visions a violation of the ftc act is exactly the right thing to do, prohibiting their use in the affect they effect they create in the first place promotes a free market nationally. these products, services, are sold and marketed nationally. the information should be available nationally without
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impediment of a tax work of different state laws. so, i would like to add mr. goldman could you talk about the virtual of a federal solution here and say a connecticut consumer gets a hotel through a website located in north dakota for a hotel in utah, should a consumer have to research state laws in three different jurisdictions before he can exercise her free speech right? >> certainly we would think mr. palmer's case is a great example of how difficult it is for a consumer to understand the limits of the clauses and to get relief from them. they do not add any value but to anyone in the ecosystem. they certainly hurt consumers, they probably it certainly hurt other businesses that play by the rules.
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they depress the overall market. >> thank you. >> i would simply add to the extent that we believe the laws, the clauses may already be illegal that may depend on things like interpretation of unconscionability of public policy. there are significant state and variations of these documents and providing of federal standard would clean up ambiguity. >> thank you. my time has expired. the subject is one that is extremely important, i think you all for being here today. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman very much, thank you for convening today's hearing. online review sites provide customers with an important and open forum to provide feedback to share experiences and hold
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businesses accountable. some of these websites allow customers to compare products and prices amongst many service providers, helping consumers select the blessed product at the most affordable price. last week i visited trip advisors headquarters in massachusetts, i saw firsthand their wonderful staff working on key innovations and interfaces needed to ensure consumers have access to online reviews and travel prices. i am proud that one of the largest travel sites in the world is based in massachusetts. i am happy to see trip advisor testifying here today. it has come to my attention that some airlines may be restricting access to their schedules and prices liking it difficult for all my travel sites like trip advisor to post different flight options online. if a consumer cannot view all of the flight options and prices on one website the consumer may be unable to identify the best travel prices, as a result the consumer may pay too much for the flight. how are consumers and airlines
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do not provide fair and scheduled information to travel sites. >> consumers are harmed anytime you reduce transparency. in this case, it would be the inability and given the consolidation in the airline industry, particularly in the united states, that limited information and limited visibility around real pricing, real availability, does not help consumers plan trips. it doesn't help the economy grow through travel tourism. >> are airlines currently preventing travel sites like trip advisor from ad accessing ticket fees and flight schedules? >> yes. increasingly airlines are attempting to withhold that information. and not making it freely available for consumers to price compare and shop. >> should airlines provide travel sites with ancillary fee
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if information as well? fees on baggage, advancing selection fees and all of those things, should that also be made available so the consumer can see what the total charges going to be to fly? >> absolutely. i can think of any consumer who would not want to know all right what to expect in terms of pricing. >> so, we have gag clauses, provisions buried in contracts that discourage customers from posting negative reviews online. these ultimately may wind up hurting the consumers and businesses alike. i am concerned about these efforts to stifle america's freedom to post reviews. as we have learned today, some customers are getting penalized for posting honest, but critical reviews and the mere threat of penalizing customers from posting negative reviews may
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discourage some customers from posting at all. without customers posting their honest assessment of project and services, other customers may not have the information needed to make informed purchasing decision. how can gag clauses also hurt businesses? >> gay causes her businesses by reducing the amount of feedback they get and by distorting the claim that the marketplace for other businesses in that market. >> what other attacks on consumer rights are some businesses including in contracts in terms of service? >> this is the end of the line. we have seen it going on for years. clauses that restrict people's ability, arbitration clauses are existing for a long time and have now grown to be widespread
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across every industry you can imagine where people who have complaints simply cannot get into the public system of justice. it is a real concern. the right to speak is following the right to go to court. i'm not surprised at all by what we are seeing today. >> miss palmer has highlighted one of the features of gag clauses. can you provide other examples of consumers being harassed. >> absently, we have seen in the past with similar gag clauses upwards of $5 million. daily fines of $50,000 to consumers until the reviews are removed. we have heard of cases from consumers who have contacted us to remove a review because of a threat of a lawsuit or action. in all of these cases the consumer stands by their content to but is but is choosing to remove their content and diminish their own speech so not to end up in the case with a lien against them. >> lean against them. >> thank you.
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>> a couple of quick questions here and will close this out. this will be directed to mr. atkinson or mr. goldman. are there particular industries where consumer gag clauses are especially pervasive? >> i mentioned in my initial testimony about the medical and healthcare industry where the entire industry was encouraged to adopt the restrictions. many, i don't know what percentage, many did so. i think that industry has moved on, i would like to think they have recognized the error of their way. i think it is an illustration of how the clauses can sweep an entire industry. once a few people try it other businesses might say, that sounds like a good idea, that
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gives me the control over my reputation that i want. if i don't do, my competitors will have the glossy reviews while i have the good and bad air out in public. in my opening remarks i mentioned we will see many other industries where the clauses will sweep. where they are driven by small businesses and professional business advisors, lawyers, doctors, et cetera as well as small business owners, places like hotels and bed and breakfast are good fertile grounds for these clauses. >> anything to add? >> i would agree with that, certainly healthcare, retail, hospitality, personal retail services. areas where you, companies where you are dealing with a service provider. >> i direct this to everybody on the panel. some are familiar with the review we have passed, the question i have is do you
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believe it strikes an appropriate balance in terms of consumer rights versus the ability of businesses to protect the reputation? >> businesses have already a wide range of tools to protect the reputation. i cannot come up with a single circumstance where it is legitimate to tell consumers they cannot share their honest, truthful feedback. in my mind, the particular question the bill address, there is no balance that i can see that would be appropriate to be worried about. in my mind it is an abuse of the business consumer relationship to tell consumers we want your money but we do not want you talking about it. >> i agree. i think the bill is a strong bill an important bill. i think it protects consumers and s mr. golden said there are rights that businesses can pursue. now that provision thing where happy to support it. >> miss palmer?
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>> i would also like to point out that as consumers, we do not have a lot of power when it comes to trying to defend ourselves against a business that would seek to have us remove the review, or come after us. they have more money, they have more money lawyers on staff than we could ever choose to get. knowing there is a law in place that says you cannot come after us just because we told the truth is extremely empowering to consumers. i believe it will go a long way. >> thanks. >> i agree with mr. goldman. i don't think there is anything here to balance. what your legislation is trying to prevent our things are simply unfair and harmful to consumers. as we have said consumers, businesses have many other options of that this bill would not take away.
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>> i would just add that not only are consumers harmed but other businesses that play by the rule and want a level playing field are also harmed by the existence of gag clauses. >> thank you all very much, thank you for your testimony today for your responses to the question. miss palmer, thank you for an inspirational story, an example that one person really can make a difference. you are the reason my this issue has taking on a life of its own. certainly why we are here today. thank you to all of the panelist , we spend a spent a lot of time on this committee studying these issues, relating to the internet, how do we keep the internet ecosystem protected how do we look at the potential it offers? you look at the digital economy and how powerful that is and how many people are using that to do business, to purchase products and services, and obviously what
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is happening out there in terms of these various practices seems to completely contradict what we are trying to accomplish. in terms of creating more freedom and protecting consumers rights out there, but certainly empowering people as they use this powerful tool in a way that can enhance their lives and those around them as well. we appreciate your insights and thank you again for making the time to be here today. we're going to try her best as we move forward, we have a markup schedule here in a few weeks and we will hopefully try to move this bill to the senate floor and get action on it there. we have a companion bill in the house it be nice to see something we could put on the president's death that we could address an issue that is becoming increasingly important in our digital economy. the hearing record will remain open for two weeks.
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during this time senators will be asked to cement any questions for the record upon receipt we asked the witnesses to submit their written answers to the committee as soon as possible. thank you all again for being here today. this hearing is adjourned. [inaudible conversation] and out [inaudible]
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[inaudible conversation] >> next a discussion about the impact of the hispanic vote in upcoming elections. then a senate hearing on wildfires across the u.s. later, and look at look at the virginia healthcare system. >> with election day 2016 less than one year away michael brown, orenstein, and other political analysts will discuss the latest polling on presidential, senate, and gubernatorial races. tomorrow morning at the american enterprise institute. watch it live at 8:45 a.m. eastern. two former inmates turn for prison reform activists will
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take part of a conversation tomorrow on the criminal justice system. live on c-span2 at noon eastern. >> all persons have in business before the honorable supreme court of the united states should give their attention. >> he boldly opposed the japanese americans during world war ii. after being convicted of failing to report for relocation mr. carr matsu took his case to the supreme court. >> in and this week on c-span's landmark cases, we'll discuss the historic supreme court case of korematsu versus the united states. after the attack on pearl harbor present franklin roosevelt issued it an evacuation order sending 120 thousand people of japanese origin who live close to military to internment camps throughout the u.s.
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>> the barracks were 20 feet wide and 120 feet long and they were divided into six different rooms. they do not have ceilings, they didn't have masonite on the floor, it would have been freezing. even in the daytime. the only thing is that this would not have been able to keep the entire room and i'm comfortable time. >> korematsu defy that order and was arrested in his case went to the supreme court. find out how the court ruled in view of the more powers of
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congress. with our guest, peter author of justice that word, the story of the japanese american internment cases. karen korematsu, executive director of the fred t korematsu institute and daughter of the plaintiff. we'll explain the mood of america and the u.s. government's policy during world war ii, we'll follow mr. korematsu before, during, and after the court's decision. that is coming up on the next landmark cases, live monday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span three, c-span radio. for background on each case order your copy of the landmark cases companion book. it is available for $8.95 plus cases. >> texas legislators and officials talk about the hispanic vote and its role in upcoming elections. as well as voting rights and turnout across the country. from the annual texas tribune festival in austin, this is about one hour. >> good morning, i'm a reporter
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with the texas tribune. i'm happy to welcome you to the fifth annual texas tribune festival. we are happy that you decide to spend your saturday with us and you are here with 8:30 a.m. for a panel on on mocking the hispanic vote. we have a great set of panelist to talk to you. before introduced just i introduce just a few quick housekeeping thanks. we are going to be on here for about one hour. we'll be 40 or 45 minutes of discussion and then open it up for q&a. there are two mics on other side of the room. we are very excited to have an opportunity to ask questions. please put your phone on vibrate, if you're going to tweet about the panel the #. let's get started. we have a founder of the hispanic republics of texas group which help the spanish republic nonprofits in the state. his a longtime political advisor to many boats including senator
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mccain and his presidential race. and presidential candidates in latin america. thank you. next we have a senator who is the honorary latino on this panel. the senator is a state senator from houston and where she was all elected in 1990, as she serves on the transportation and commerce committees. before that he served. next is a republican from dallas for elected in 2012. he serves on the business and industry and in economic and small business committee. next to him is state representative he is elected here in austin in 2,014. i think there's been about four elections. she won a special election in the previous district. she has a long history in texas
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politics, late she currently serves in the elections committee. last, we have secretary of state pat, he is current secretary of state, his one of governors the first governors the first appointments when he was elected. he is a former democrat, he was elected the commissioner and became the county judge before being placed. thank you for being here we have done several different views of this panel. this year we have a presidential election, and up, we have a very crowded field, on the republican side if you asked me a year ago when we first started talking about the panel my first question would be about donald trump i would not have believed you.
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here we are, we have a very crowded republican field where the front runner is at the front of the field despite some of the things that we have heard that their racist. do you struggle, how do you run an election where you can gain more hispanic support how do you give support to whoever gives the leader of your party. >> you're looking at me. that such a difficult question. by the way, he is not only a national interest, he is of international interest. i've been to several countries recently and people come up to me and say, zero, i hope you are not supporting trump.
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because it is insulting what he is said about hispanic, but women, about but my family members, my friends. but it is also a phenomenon, a real international. we're talking about in mexico from out of nowhere appears a gentleman is very similar to trump he is offensive, he is a show man, and he wins the governorship of in mexico some argue the most powerful state. the most educated state. the state with the most finances and for the first time in the history of mexico there is an independent governor. it happened in costa rica last year, also in panama, outsiders win. this year we have a comedian in guatemala, people are tired of politics as usual.
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in this nation, republicans and democrats i must say, if you look at some of the research, they love that there is a trump guy out there swearing, kicking everybody and making things stirred up. if you also look at the research and do not ask who you vote for, they show what trump stands for and believes in, americans are horrified. i would not vote for anyone like that. the good thing is though we tend to usually vote with our emotions and not with our mind. that is also international. in this case, we have more than a year for his ideas to come forth and i think we will be missing him on panels very soon. >> i will say there is a cultural connection that i will
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remind everyone out. when we were growing up or any kids have a birthday party you buy a piñata. you are going to beat up on that piñata and it is a celebration. the hotselling item in austin right now is a donald trump piñata. that is an indicator, as a republican donald trump is the gift that keeps on giving. >> donald trump gives ways to the frustration for the party today. i think people that are following him, people most enthusiastic about him are those that are just disenfranchised from the current political system. he is one of the outsiders we can attach ourselves to. that being said, his policies are offensive, they are troubling. i think any republican who is thoughtful about these issues, i am hearing some of these commentaries and horrified that
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someone who has risen to this level, and our party, just supposed to be in the nominee has even said those things. i think that is troubling. i think most republicans will have their summer affairs and some are flings with candidates while we are enjoying the process and entertainment of politics. i think as we go into the fall and into the spring, and we begin to discern who our next presidential nominee will be, i think at that point of the republican party. if you look at history, what we did at the last election cycle, we had michelle bachmann and kane, we all had our moments in the sun. it is fun, interesting, entertainment. in the end, we nominated a solid individual who ultimately did not achieve what we had hoped but at least the republican
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party came together that we need a serious minded person to be the president of the united states. also trump is not a republican. you the pew look at the issues he cares about, he is clearly not a republican. certainly not a conservative. people who have begun to gravitate towards him because he is a conservative, they don't look at his record. this is a man who wanted to continue funding for planned parenthood. support single-payer obama care, a person on the news who went on and said george w. bush is the reason we had 911 even though we had only been there two months when it had occurred. these are not orthodox positions in the republican party. for someone to espouse those positions and still maintain a sizable portion of the early polling suggests that we are hurting right now. we are not serious yet. once we get serious and sober
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after the stubble of trump then you'll begin to see republicans go that direction. >> at the end of the day he is running in the republican primary but is there silverlining to what you have all described. does it put more pressure on people both sides to step up and talk to hispanic voters and energize them. can they cut through the noise and will put more pressure and benefit voters. >> i think it provides an alternative for people like jeb john bush and marco rubio, either i think senator cruise is banking on the fact that trump will ultimately implode and people will take his place. marco rubio who is articulate, fresh, and also latino, he is
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still brown skin and one of us. i think that will begin to resonate with viewers. we have got to broaden this tent, we have to be better about reaching hispanics. we saw the numbers in the last presidential cycle when romney got 22% of the vote. that is not going to cut it. george w. bush when he ran was in the 40s. we have got to get back in the 40s we have a chance and only candidates who can do that are more thoughtful and open-minded about these issues.
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>> >> you have a lot of first-time voters letter very cynical


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