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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  November 8, 2015 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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taking on that flight. i want to thank you for working on this bill and the opportunity to share my views. >>one, nobody who has been payig attention over the past decade should be surprised by the present growth of nonestablishment clauses. the idea behind the legislation craft to solve this problem is a good one, and fits into a long history of legislative action designed to not only protect humors -- consumers, but protect a market economy. we are unable to support this bill because it seeks to limit the rights of state and federal officials. see the logical conclusion of a decade-long corporate effort to strip consumers of yet another
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fundamental right. consumers today are typically required to waive all sorts of rights, including the right to seek our justice system, and the right to even speak. what is happening is obvious. through the use of indecipherable language and nonnegotiable contracts, corporations have successfully strip consumers of the seventh amendment right. why should we be surprised when corporations what to do the same to consumers' first amendment right? deemed would have been unconscionable and unenforceable. surely, there is no consent by the consumer. surely it was on constable -- it was -- [indiscernible]
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congress should pass a bill that prohibits gag causes. simply, these gag causes attack the very heart of affair and functioning american marketplace by considering -- prohibiting few bursts consumers -- prohibiting consumers. consumer protection laws in a free economy protect the market itself and all its participants. they have recognized this on countless occasions. created withere the understanding that our market economy would not function properly if unscrupulous businesses were allowed to profit from unfair trade practices and inevitably gain competitors advantages. federal and state disclosure regimes exist in large part
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because of our understanding that a fair and functioning marketplace is dependent on consumers making informed decisions. act, ar credit reporting law that this committee is intimately failure -- familiar, was passed on the basins that one know all the information and undermine the vitality of the consumer economy. the idea too bad not discouraging causes stand in the long line of these market protection statute. -- statutes. whether disclosed by law or should by others, it is made available for consumers to use and/or ignore in their decision-making process. are essentialons for our consumer marketplace to function, it's a mere passage is not nearly enough to concern --
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to ensure the rule of law complies. is essential for loss to have their full effect. attorney generals across this country have been enforcing state and federal consumer protections with small and ever shrinking budgets and staff, these public servants have sought ways to maximize their ability to protect their state hospira, may. their efforts in a bipartisan critical.e been partnerships that some attorney general's have formed -- particularly in instances when they are attempting to force the law against big corporations -- has numberhim -- lead to a completely unattainable. simply, if you want the attorney general to enforce the law, congress should not limit the
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state officials on best how to protect the consumers in their own state. we support the idea. there is no place in the american economy for deny consumers the right to free -- speak freely. however, for a consumer market protection statute to be fully affect of, it must fully enforceable. because this bill limits public regulators from using all of their necessary tools, we cannot partly supported. if this provision is removed from the bill, we would be pleased in offering our full support. >> thank you. >> thank you. we appreciate very much your comments on the legislation and obviously will take into consideration your thoughts as we can tell you -- as we continue to shape it. i want to start with five-minute rounds of questions i want -- questions, and i want to ask you, ms. palmer -- most people
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would have given up, but you persisted and kept fighting. even now, to come across the country to share your story with us today, the experience you had , speaks volumes about your commitment to this issue. why have you continued to stay engaged as you have on this issue? ms. palmer: as i said, the only two things were ever wanted to have happen was for my husband's credit to be cleaned so we could move on with our lives as we had originally planned, and we wanted to make sure this never happened to anybody else ever again. when i first contacted the media, i hoped that if i star got out there, other people would be inspired to come that if i in's fired -- that if i got our story out there, other people would be inspired to come forward. i am happy to do anything i can
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to assist. >> we appreciate your story. today that one of the purposes of the gag clause is to bully and intimidate consumers, and described how consumers' demand shocked and scared you. i guess i'm wondering if your experience has given you pause about posting reviews for other products. ms. palmer: absolutely not. i continue to post reviews for both companies that have given wonderful service and great products to let other consumers know, yes, you should definitely buy from this company. and also for companies that maybe fell short of the mark and didn't provide such a great product. that information is just as important as a good review. mr. thune: i guess after what you're experienced, it couldn't
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get worse, right tackle ms. palmer: i would hope not -- right? ms. palmer: i would hope not. [laughter] mr. thune: trip advisor has taken steps. and on the other side of the equation, amazon recently sued a number of companies that allegedly facilitate fake reviews online. do you see other large internet companies taking measures to clean up online reviews to make sure the consumers are getting accurate information? >> absolutely. before i answer that, let me first again thank you for inviting us and for pushing this legislation forward. we think it is incredibly important legislation. without a doubt, we see businesses in the hospitality industry attempts to silence critics of their services. and this plays out across a number of other industries. you mentioned the amazon case. we have seen it with yelp in
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trying to push yelp reviewers or other reviewers to remove their comments to -- to reduce the severity of their comments or to very this comments with other content, or positive comments. mr. thune: professor goldman, 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 that gag causes may be distorting the market -- clauses may be destroying the market -- distorting the market? mr. goldman: i think the contract clauses are only a small part. there are so many incentives for consumers to share their opinions and perspectives. and each of those comes with a fix -- with a friction point in
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their willingness to share. ms. palmer shared that proudly she has not been a bullied off of the internet, but most consumers don't have the fortitude and confidence he has -- she has. gag clauses are one way businesses can threaten consumers to remove their legitimate views once they have been posted. .here are some other tools for example, threatening defamation and saying we are going to sue you if you don't remove it. that is why i would also call your attention to things like the federal anti-slap law. that would be another tool to protect consumers from having their legitimate reviews driven off the internet. mr. thune: my time is expired. i will turn to senator nelson. mr. nelson: ms. palmer, i am so sorry you had to go through this experience. when you went to the tv station and it started getting some
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publicity, is that when you then decided to go into court because you are listed as the plaintiff in vollmer versus -- ms. palmer: we have been seeking legal help before we went to the media. i had contacted several lawyers, done a lot of research online to find out what my options were. for all the lawyers i spoke to and said, do you have a case, they said, yes, we do if you do. i said, great, can you represent us? no, we are not touching that with a 10 foot pole. it was so shady and so they, most didn't want to touch it. -- and so big, most didn't want to touch it. 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. is goodon: well, that
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news. , i want to look at the other side. tell us about evidence of bad actors trying to take advantage of businesses by threatening to post a false negative complaint. mr. medros: there are certainly some instances where consumers threaten a business with a negative review, threaten to share their experience online, and that -- that business, rightfully so, has concerns that that is going to impede their future marketing efforts, impede their future business. but the reality is we encourage businesses to proactively communicate those threats to us, and then we then monitor those properties for the instance of negative reviews. in the vast majority of cases,
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those negative reviews never appear. one of the tenants of trip advisor is to allow the businesses to respond to any consumer review. we believe that transparency will solve this problem. future consumers get to read those responses, the back and forth between those two parties, and make their own decision, way their own believes about whether or not this is the right business for them to visit a -- visit. mr. nelson: so you encourage those businesses if there is a false review to contact you. with this legislation prevent a business owner who is threatened with a false or malicious review from bringing a case in court against a consumer for defamation? mr. medros: i am not probably the best person to answer from a legal standpoint. what i can tell you is that i don't believe it will prevent
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businesses from interacting with trip advisor and asking reviews to be reviewed. staff andoy an entire we look at a review where someone flags it as inappropriate, against our guidelines, or perhaps irrelevant. mr. nelson: i think what we want is access to the courts for whoever is the aggrieved party. in the case of ms. palmer, apparently it was her access to the court that finally brought about the redraft's of -- redrafts of her terrible situation. let me ask you, on the arbitration clauses, when fiat recently used this friends and family program to basically trade away the right to go into
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court in exchange for a $200 discount, should we be doing something to protect consumers from more than just the non-disparagement clauses? >> oh, absolutely. the fact is the way consumers see redress is to the public court system. a lot of the stories and a lot of the bad damages that it done to consumers if they don't have access to the courts, ms. palmer was lucky because her story is a very compelling story. sometimes you need to go to court and publicize those stories in ways. so what fiat data is happening across this country. employers, consumers, and it has gotten sanctioned. there is actually a reward for sending it away. in most instances, people are signing away the right to go to court without ever knowing about it. it has been in clauses, shrink
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wrap, arbitration clauses are 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.
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we have caught off the aggrieve or the agriever into the court. >> 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.
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many missourians have loyalty. and finally, we are wearing blue 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
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representsation on the scale we needed -- representation -- 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
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would not have to charge ms. palmer. they only get paid if they win that case and the court will 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
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collected -- which is the fee 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
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want to take on the costly risk of going forward with the lawsuit which does even the playing field, i think in some 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
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making this -- have you thought about making a stab of making 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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>> thank you. has it been in your case, ms. palmer, the added this long after the transaction occurred, correct? ms. palmer: yes. i had read through it three times to make sure there is nothing in there that would have prevented me -- especially saying i didn't purchase the items -- , i wanted to make sure there wasn't anything for me
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preventing -- presenting the review. when they came back and said you violated the clause, i looked at my husband and said that didn't exist. >> [indiscernible] >> [laughter] and you actually read those agreements. that is most impressive to start with. my neighbor to the south, senator fisher. ms. fisher: thank you, chairman. you mentioned that small businesses in particular may make use of these non-disparagement clauses, as many of them viewed as personal when they get negative feedback. i am on the small business committee here in the senate, and i fully understand how important small businesses are to the state of the rasco and to the economy here in our country. while i agree that the use of these non-disparagement clauses
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is a practice that should be discouraged, i would like your views on whether this bill contains protections for small businesses that are out there. do you think it does? >> in the end, the goal is to create a level playing field for small businesses. at a competitive -- competitors using their clauses is hurting the overall market place. and the opportunity to go when over customers. is essential for preserving the vitality of the small business community and making sure the markets are open for them to come in enter. >> and you think those are in this bill? mr. rheingold: i support this bill -- mr. medros: i support this bill the way it is
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currently drafted. i think this bill would be super helpful in advancing interests of small businesses. >> thank you. do you have any comments about that small businesses -- do you believe they are protected under this bill the way it is drafted? why we are still making sure to allow consumers to express their views without being punished? >> i would echo mr. goldman's comment that a lot of these damage from this clauses -- these clauses are harming their small business competitors who are doing a good job. it might hurt a particular small business, but it helps others. secondly, there is still -- are still legal remedies that a company can use if they feel that someone has out right to live. the bill doesn't prohibit the company from taking action in that way. postsl business owner something and says we are concerned about back, we don't
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agree, that it really can minimize damage if a company is sincere in what they are trying to do. >>< do you think small businesses, though, have the resources or they would be able to -- to respond to those negative comments? where they really can take action? it is hard for consumers to take action. we have heard that. it is difficult. lawsuits are expensive. what what it -- but what about small businesses? how do we reach a balance chakra>> i think -- balance? >> you can monitor what people, your customers, are saying about you. age,ly, in the internet that is something that every business needs to do. you are not going to search the web every day for everything, but there are platforms are can and should monitor as a small business owner. during that i think is not overly burdensome. and a quick reply, one minute
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kind of reply every once in a while, you don't get negative reviews every day. so i don't think it is a burden. >> thank you. also, in the senate version of this bill, we are looking at the enforcement of the prohibition on non-disparagement clauses by the federal trade commission. and in the house version, we have the enforcement by the department of justice. you have an opinion one way or the other on who would be the best position to assume that role? >> i don't have an opinion on that, but the person who leads this work for us is daniel, who was not able to be here for flight reasons. i will be happy to get back to you on that. >> thank you, senator fisher. >> mr. chairman, thank you very much. thank you for hosting this hearing and pursuing the concepts contained in this legislation. business,ic of small
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i would assume that small business actually uses reviews as well. they are a consumer. small businesses need information about what business, larger or smaller, that they might want to deal with. and online reviews may be helpful to a small business and making a business decision. while you outlined some details on how this is harmful or helpful, one of the other ways is a small business cannot make a mistake. it is more difficult that they enter into agreement with purchase for another corporation that turns out to be a bad deal. the consequences are harder to recover from. alsoume small businesses utilize the review. everybody is shaking their head. then let me ask about state laws. perhaps this is to the professor. in california, in particular, has state laws dealing with a state law were dealing with this
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issue? >> california is the only state. >> other states are pursuing it? >> i have not done a survey. >> is anything we can learn from california -- >> is there anything we can learn from california? >> i don't believe there has been any enforcement action. it is relatively new, so it is early in the process. the only thing i will call attention to is there is a statutory damages prevention that a consumers who are subjected to these clauses to obtain statutory damages. and i think that is a topic worth discussion. >> in addition to that suggestion, let me add a broader question. in this world of online reviews, are there other or similar issues that the commerce committee ought to be paying
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attention to? a couple that i think have been mentioned previously, fake reviews, false reviews. other issues that surround this new development? certainly in my life, particularly as a rural small town resident, these reviews occurred. they occurred after church, they occurred at the grocery store, they occurred at the cafe, and people within our community or talk about what service they got or getting it, how quality 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 are missing as to this issue of non-disparagement clauses? 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
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that alleging defamation or other types of harm like that 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
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on the issue of anti- flap and that issue it has has on the 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
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of individual statues are not going to work. 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
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quite compelling and i have 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.
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>> let me move on to the way trip advisor work in terms of, you have a pop-up screen that 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
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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 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.
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as you suggest the customer is in charge, we know that now, now 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
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business. $4 billion. 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
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practices, policies, procedures, that you would recommend that should be used to come back fake , online reviews question what. >> 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
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problem is with fake reviews, anti- review clauses are never the solution. so, this i think it is a 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
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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 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
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are amazing experiences. we hear this over and over again for business owners. what makes that possible is the scale of our platforms. 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.
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>> 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 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
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seemingly at random, so to find 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
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they are not. >> the palmers story is 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
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depths to see these tiny little charges that added up over time. you are in good company i guess. 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
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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 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.
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>> and professor goldman, does your research show what mr. mr. woodrow just talked about 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
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the age-old practice and tries 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
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not positive. so from an economic standpoint 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.
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i very much appreciate the chairman's understanding in that regard. 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
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sold and marketed nationally. the information should be available nationally without 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,
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they probably it certainly hurt other businesses that play by the rules. 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
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consumer may pay too much for the flight. how are consumers and airlines 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.
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>> should airlines provide travel sites with ancillary fee 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
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posting negative reviews may 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
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existing for a long time and have now grown to be widespread 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
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to end up in the case with a lien against them. >> lean against them. >> thank you. >> 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
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entire industry. once a few people try it other businesses might say, that sounds like a good idea, that 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.
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>> i direct this to everybody on the panel. some are familiar with the review we have passed, the question i have is do you 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
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happy to support it. >> miss palmer? >> 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
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and how powerful that is and how many people are using that to do business, to purchase products and services, and obviously what 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
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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. 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
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[inaudible] >> is really prime minister benjamin netanyahu is set to meet with president obama tomorrow at the white house. this'll be his first trip back to washington since march when he addressed a joint meeting of congress about the iran nuclear agreement while negotiations were taking place. the prime minister in the president did not meet during that visit. tomorrow's meeting expected to focus on u.s.-israel relations and security in the middle east. a joint news conference is not scheduled but if either the president or the prime minister speak to the minute -- media, we will have it right here on c-span. >> about whom will you next right -- write?
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there is only one if i wrote a second biography. i did write the book. >> i thought i will be standing next to the president, speaking to 3500 of the most important people the world in this room in washington. i don't know how i will feel. i had an idea i would do that. i thought maybe i will get in the book later. the chutzpah in the moment to be able to pull off the goofiness, i will do it. tonight, on his writing career. selling biography in his crossover between religion and politics. >> i feel it is important for everyone to take politics seriously and to vote. but never to make what christians are called an idol of politics. there are people that have done that and their worshiping at
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becausel rather than that god that would cause them to care for the poor. it's a fine line in soviet talk about fairly often. tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span q&a. democratic senator after leahy and republican senator mike lee set down with politico's susan glasser for a talk about bipartisanship in congress. the two lawmakers spoke about working together on legislation that would make changes to prison sentencing laws. this was hosted by the edward kennedy institute for the u.s. senate and it is about 45 minutes. [applause] susan: good morning, everyone. thank you so much. thank you, louisa. thank you very much, mrs. kennedy. it is an honor to be here this
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morning. i think this is a perfect representation of what the new kennedy institute of in boston is aiming for. our conversation this morning i , can tell you that there is such a thing as bipartisan legislating. i have seen it in action backstage in our union station greenroom here. [laughter] susan: people thought that it was dead, but i can tell you that it is not a dinosaur. i actually heard these two senators from different parties discussing legislative tactics right here and who they should call from across the aisle to lobby this morning on their bill. that is a perfect starting point for our conversation this morning. these two have teamed up on perhaps the most interesting project. which is criminal justice reform. it has brought together a very unlikely coalition of advocates. on the right and the left. you have the koch brothers sponsoring the big event today on criminal justice reform.
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president obama earlier this week, having his own big and very interesting role with sentencing reform actions. and here on capitol hill, we have senator leahy and senator lee teaming up on this measure. i want to jump on into this question. everyone here wants to know -- there is lots of conversation and buzz around this bill. how are we going to actually move it forward? what are the biggest pressure points in each of your view? where can this coalition break apart? number one. number two, what is the stumbling block you are most worried about? is it your colleagues in the house? is it just election-year timing? senator leahy, video get us going. -- maybe can get us going. sen. leahy: first, thank you for having this. i was listening to mrs. kennedy talk before we came out.
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of course, her late husband, senator kennedy, was wonderful. he used emphasize to me and everybody else, both democrats and republicans, it has a chance of passing. sentencing it is , something we have worked on now for years. both senator lee and i are former prosecutors. we do not need somebody to say, we have got to be tough on crime. we were tough on crime. but it is also being sensible. having a quarter to a third of the budget going -- of the department of justice going to the bureau of prisons because of people who are sentenced for nonviolent crimes makes no sense. besides, it's societal problems. let us concentrate on real
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crimes. having someone whose life is ruined because of a drug addiction or a mistake, that makes no sense. mandatory minimums, the sentences that come from them, why don't we trust our judges to do a good job with them? but it takes democrats and republicans to work together. mike and i were enjoying the fact that, when we announced this, it went across the political spectrum. that is the only way these days you are going to get something passed. susan: what is the challenge in getting this bill passed? with you think? sen. leahy: we have got to bring it up. and vote. the electronic communications
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act. we can get it passed if it gets on the floor and we have a real debate. people have got this up -- to stop thinking you are going to lock everybody up. the american people got beyond that and the same with the electronic communications. americans want to know that their communications are safe and the government is not prying on them. these are things that can bring liberals, conservatives, everybody together. i think the congress, which is not the most highly-rated organization in this country these days, i think the american people saw us actually debating on these real things and voting on them. opinions would change. susan: senator lee, do you need to persuade senator mcconnell
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and new speaker ryan to get this measure to the floor and then it will pass? sen. lee: yes, it will be important for us to convince both of them that this needs to go to the floor. the good news is, i think we are headed in that direction. we had a vote a couple of weeks ago on the senate judiciary committee on which we both serve, and we ended up passing this bill on committee with a strong bipartisan super majority vote of 15-5. that is really good news. it is a good omen for getting it to the floor, as is the fact that chairman grassley is now supportive of it. i think we have a good chance of getting it passed. it's identified as one of these issues that are neither republican or democratic. it is simply an american ideal. it is core to who we are. fairness is a core principle and they understand that our current sentencing system has real problems. susan: is there a bill that the
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house can support as well? what is your anxiety about keeping your republican colleagues supportive of this measure? sen. lee: as senator leahy was saying, the biggest challenge we face is among those, and they are more prevalent in my party, who are inclined to say, i do not support this bill because i am tough on crime. overwhelmingly i think those , people have not read the bill yet or do not understand the bill yet. just as importantly, they do not understand the human stories behind it. the real world examples of why this bill is necessary. i like to tell a story -- one of the things that got me interested in this, ironically, arose 12 or 13 years ago when i was a federal prosecutor. there was a young man in my mid-20's. he was prosecuted for selling marijuana in relatively small increments over a 72-hour period.
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on three occasions. he had a gun on his person at the time. it was not granted or discharged it on his person. the way the case was charged resulted in amendment mandatory -- statutorily mandatory sentence of 55 years. this young man has two young children, sentenced in his mid-20's to 55 years in prison. if he serves the whole sentence, he will be a most 80 by the time he gets out. i have never met a single person, not republicans, democrats, anyone, who believed that sentence was just. in fact the sentencing judge issued an opinion saying, i think this is horrible. this is a miscarriage of justice. but i have no choice. my hands are tied. only congress can fix this problem. i have remembered that all these years and when i got here, i decided it was a problem i wanted to address. susan: do you know what happened? sen. lee: he is still in prison.
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i met his family when they came to my office. i always have them and him in my mind as we are working on this bill. sen. leahy: i think what senator lee raises the point that we have to understand, everybody wants to go to war but they never served in the military. people have never served in law enforcement. i have, in my office, the plaque and my badge from when i was a prosecutor. it reminds me of these issues. when you have these mandatory whenums, one-size-fits-all. anybody who has been a prosecutor, judge, in law enforcement knows that one size does not fit all. we make a horrible mistake if we try to do that.
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we have got to change this. you know, california did the -- their three strikes and you are out and people were getting locked up for life at $50,000 a year for stealing a toaster or something in the store, shoplifting. come on. it makes no sense. they were lost bankrupted by it. -- they were almost bankrupted by it. i think we can get back. there are so many things. we worked together on the usa freedom act and trying to change the way the nsa and others could listen in on us. we got together a coalition of republicans and democrats, and we got it done. i strongly believe, if we are going to have congress relevant, we have got to come to some of
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these issues. i mean, we will have things where we disagree, but there are so many things where both parties can come together. let's start working on it. frankly, our bill that we talked about, the president has told me if we passed that, he will sign it in a minute. susan: i want to dial it back one second. everyone wants to understand more what lessons you have learned in some of your previous workings together. how you wield levers of power in an institution that increasingly is fragmented? first, we want to know, how did this odd couple come together? you guys are kind of an unlikely duo. you have mentioned your background in law enforcement. but seriously, there are 100 members of the senate. tell us, what is your story here? how did you hook up? sen. leahy: tell them what your wife said. sen. lee: i have mentioned this
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to senator leahy before. a few months ago, when he and i were working on the usa freedom act, which dealt with a collection of metadata under section 215 of the patriot act and got rid of the domestic collection of this bulk metadata under the patriot act, i was calling pat leahy so much that my wife said to me, you talk to senator leahy more than you talk to me. but we started working together fairly soon after i got to the senate. 4.5 years ago. i recognized early on that he and i shared a lot of things in common. and that we are both former federal prosecutors who understand that the power of government needs to be restrained. individual liberty is paramount to who we are as a society. and nowhere does the power of
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government need to be restrained to protect liberty more than in the case of, for example, our private conversations over the telephone, over e-mail. especially in the case of long-term incarceration. those all involved heavy intrusions by government into individual liberty. that is what has brought us together on projects like the usa freedom act, which we passed into law in june. the electronic communications privacy act amendments which we hope to get passed by the end of this congress. and criminal justice for, which passed two weeks ago. susan: is it not a global -- political problem for you back in utah? you have a liberal democrat from vermont as your partner. i am just assuming that you will always be reelected, senator lee. sen. lee: no. not a problem in the least.
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the american people expect us to work together and find areas where we can achieve common ground. we have found some of those areas. i do not intend to stop finding common areas. there are lots of them. sen. leahy: i am the only democrat vermont has ever elected to the senate. senator sanders was elected independent. when i came to the senate my senior senator was senator robert stafford, who is also a close friend of senator kennedy's. and he took me under his wing and he said, i will give you one bit of advice. he said, work across the aisle. you and i will work together on things, which we did. work across the aisle. it's when you form those coalitions and actually get something done. i have never forgotten that. mike has experience on these things.
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obviously he's one of work with. we talk about privacy and all, it does not make a difference whether you are republican or democrat. in my state you really have a sense of privacy. i will tell you very quickly a story. the only thing i kept on my wall was a sidebar on a profile of me. i live on a dirt road and old farmhouse since i was a teenager. neighboring farmer told me since i was in grade school the whole story goes like this -- a reporter sees a farmer on the porch and says does senator leahy live up this road? are you a friend of his? no. is he expecting you? no. never heard of him. we like our privacy in vermont. susan: i am glad the intrepid reporter found you anyways. sen. leahy: he did.
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he was a good reporter. he then found out my home phone number and he has never called -- able to call me and get directions. susan: in your collaboration on the usa patriot act, on the issues that started off this collaboration, could you give us some of your learnings and your takeaway on what does not work anymore? many people are struck by the waning of the old schools of -- tools of power in the senate and the house. leadership is not as strong anymore. individual entrepreneurs like you can get stuff done. how do you make things happen? what works now or does not work now that used to work when you first came into the senate? sen. leahy: i keep asking myself that question. there is not enough ability of leaders to work things out.
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that does not mean you are always going to agree with the leader of your own party, but there are certain things that may seem formal but in times you could work out. you would do a lot of things by consent. now you have one or two people, we can disrupt that and get on the local news or the evening news by doing it. we do not spend enough time here developing personal relationships. when i first came here, we were in section five days a week. campaigns do not cost what they do today. people were not out fundraising all the time. you learned to develop relationships across the aisle. your children would know each other. you would know each other. and that made a big difference.
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everybody thinks it is done on the floor. it is a private, personal meeting. i am fortunate to have a nice office in the capital because of my seniority. but i have had meetings with mike, just sitting down and talk without having every word recorded and talked about. you have got to go back to those personal relationships. again, when i first came here, leaders of both parties would encourage that. they would encourage you to take trips together. we have got to find a time to come back to doing that. i remember harry reid once asked john mccain to come to a caucus of everybody to just talk about his experiences as a prisoner of
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war. most people had not heard the whole story. you could have heard a pin drop in that room. there was a sense, when we walked out, maybe we ought to start treating each other as individuals and not just adversaries. susan: do you think that the power of committee chairman has waned? does that make your job easier or harder? to bring up a bill. that is very important. the most important thing, as committee chairman -- i have chaired a couple of major committees. i know how to get a piece of legislation so that it does not pass the partyline vote. usually, a chairman can pass a partyline vote, but it will not go anywhere. you have to work -- as might
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just mentioned, the bill on sentencing reform, that was a lot of work to get into the coalition. those are the only bills that really do pass. the usa freedom act we were able to get through even though the majority leader had a different idea of what should be done because an enormous coalition came together in the house and we had an enormous coalition in the senate. and we dramatically improved the laws that affect how americans are listen to or watched. so chairmen determine when a bill comes up, but you have got to have a coalition. susan: senator lee, there is a sense that some of your
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colleagues who have came in with tea party support, the burn it down attitude towards the own -- the old institutions, do you think that anger is finally burning itself out? what do you think about the new budget deal that was bipartisan? is that a sign that the institution may be getting back some of its established order and that the fire -- or are the fires still burning? sen. lee: i explained my view of congress in an op-ed that i wrote a few weeks ago. i talked about change coming to congress. the american people are experiencing some of the benefits of decentralization of power with things like uber and airbnb. the information economy is making it so the old centers of power within the economy are no
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longer enjoying the longevity -- the hegemony that they once enjoyed. i think they are starting to expect this demand -- similar things will happen in congress. similar things will happen in washington. not every decision has to be made in washington. within washington, we will have more people who serve in both houses of congress, both political parties, who will participate in the spirit of legislative entrepreneurship. they are expecting and demanding that power be pulled more and more to their rank-and-file member level. but there is not a lot of agreement. i voted against the budget deal. i have some real concerns with it. but i think we should embrace this change that is coming. i think we're going to see a lot more members, a lot more young
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ventures like me who are eager and willing to work across the aisle because we recognize that the only way we are going to get anything done. it is also consistent with this model that power needs to be decentralized in congress. just as it has been in the economy. susan: with the rise of entrepreneurs like senator cruz, are we going to see more government shutdowns, extreme tactics? sen. lee: i don't know any member of the senate who sets out and says, i want to see the government not funded. i do not see that as the goal. the way we have been spending money in congress, where we put everything together as part of a package and you have a binary choice at the end of the year, at the end of the funding period, that involves funding everything at current levels or nothing, that is something that needs to come to an end. we need to get back to a process that involves passing a dozen or more separate appropriations bills so there is not a single binary choice at the end of the year.
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sen. leahy: i would agree with that. i am the seniormost member of the appropriations committee. i can tell you more and more, we wish we could just go and do each one of the bills. might be a wise way to do it, to have a two-year budget cycle instead of every year. might be a way to save money because the agencies could plan what is going to be spent more. but vote on each one. vote on the interior bill, the defense bill, the foreign operations bill. and try to have, if you are going to have amendments, have them relevant to what you are talking about. forget the riders that are there for a special interest group on the right or the left. the government would run better.
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and congress should be exerting its power of the purse. the way it is done now, the continuing resolution, basically, we are saying, whether we like the president or not, we are giving the power to the executive branch. we are not being very specific. i think it should be a shared power. we've got to go back to that. it is more work, but if you are running for the house or the senate because you expect a vacation, you made a mistake. most members want to do the work and get it done. susan: i want to have a quick news round before we bring in questions from the audience. you two are working on another shared project, which is patent reform.
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which, if anything, it is as controversial as some of your others. here to ask you a question about that. >> i wanted to ask why you think this is the right session for patent reform when it failed last year and has not moved yet this year, despite moving in committee. sen. leahy: overall, patent reform took years to get there. when we passed the leahy-smith bill, that was the biggest upgrade of patent law in 50 years. now you are talking about the so-called patent troll bill. we have again a coalition. senator cornyn in texas, myself, and others want to get it through.
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we are trying to get across to everybody that no group is going to get everything they want. as long as any one group, a lobby group or anyone else, thinks they are going to have everything they want, nobody gets anything they want. but we are determined to get it through. i think that, if we have a bill with enough of a coalition, democrats, republicans, i think the leadership will bring it up and it will pass. sen. lee: the best part of the bill is that the portion taken from the leahy-lee bill. sen. leahy: that is right. but we will call it the lee-leahy bill. [laughter] if that will help it pass. sen. lee: americans are demanding they want the customer state provision. in my small town, we speak of little else.
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sen. leahy: we hear it in coffee shops in vermont. i live in southside montpelier, where i was born, a town of people,x, about 1400 they have one coffee shop, , whered sandwich place everybody meets. they have wi-fi and they are constantly worried about, if people buy things off the shelf, people will come in and sue them because they are infringing some esoteric patent. they are the linchpin of the community. they should not have to fear that. susan: i am going to put you to -- two on the spot and then open it up to questions. which of these two babies has a better chance of passage in this congress, the criminal justice reform or the patent measure? sen. lee: i think the smart money would be on the criminal justice reform bill. i think the momentum is
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there for that bill. i think there is much bigger public by an. buy-in.bigger public do not get me wrong. they are both very important. i think the patent litigation reform bill is important, there is a smaller audience that knows, cares about, and understands that issue than there is about the criminal justice reform measure. with criminal justice reform, now more than any other point in american history, there are more people who know someone who is imprisoned, someone who is perhaps in federal prison, than ever before. as a result, people are more aware of this issue than they have been in the past. that has given us a boost. i want to thank the president for his efforts to draw attention to the need for this reform. he has been a real avid cheerleader for it, as he has been on past litigation reform as well. this is where i feel we have the most support for these measures. sen. leahy: i would agree with that.
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i would like to see both of them pass, of course. i will make efforts of it. but in the overall, what is going to affect our society the most is the criminal reform bill. i would urge that we could move sooner than later because i into the closer you get the presidential election cycle of next year,, it is a year from notwithstanding we see it on tv all the time, but the house in the senate, the whole house, a third of the senate is getis going to be hard to attention to it. i would hope that we could do something by spring. it is going to be importance. -- this is going to be important
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. criminal justice reform has to be taken out of politics as usual. the patent bill, i think is important. i would like to see both of them, but i agree with mike. that people know a criminal justice reform means is going to make a big difference. >> all right, let's get some questions from the audience. let us know who you are, your name -- any takers? you, sir. we have a microphone for you. yes. my name is joe mccarthy. that really is my name. sen. leahy: you are taller than the other one. i hope i am different in other ways. i am a retired administrator from the harvard kennedy school. commented if you could
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on the role of staff and bipartisanship. i remember a kennedy school student talking about how senator moynihan always urged his staff to go out and meet ,ith the staff across the aisle go have a beer, get to know them, and build relationships. i think it is absolutely importance. as i always remind my staff, as me, the staff is an extension of the senator. with each one of these efforts that we had with the usa freedom act for example and criminal justice reform, with all of these, just as there has been a lot of bipartisan interaction on our site, it has been an essential precedent to any of it happening, there has been in norma's interaction on the staff level as well. i know my staff has enjoyed that interaction just as much as i
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have. i completely agree with your assessment that that is very important at the staff level. sen. leahy: i often say the members of congress are merely constitutional impediments to the staff. the staff do all of the work. i have been fortunate to have a superb staff on all of my committees. a superb staff. withf they could not work staff from other members of both parties -- i mean there are so many times i will get a call from my staff saying, you know, senator so-and-so's staff says if we come together on .3 and 3 or poiout -- on point 4, and work it out, we keep
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things moving. we could not keep track of it all. place so close to the vest, they do not let their staff of work. they have been very ineffective. i remain or pat moynihan -- i remember that moynihan said his office was right down the hall from now -- i remember when he worked on social security and there is a steady stream of senator dole's staff going to his office and vice versa. susan: thank you. more questions? >> jim, an ex-emk staffer and not a patent lawyer. i think this is a copyrighted name -- [laughter] susan: we are paying royalties for this event.
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>> i really read last night the portion of senator kennedy's book where he talked about one of his first bipartisan activities, and that was joining with a young, i think, first term senator to defeat a house bill trying to undo one man, one vote. and his teammate and that was howard baker. howard baker's legislative assistant, my opposite number, was lamar alexander, who was -- who has done very well in his own right. so, there is so much good history on the subject that i think it is worth going back and looking at some of those. and one, i wonder whether you looked at, because this is the 50th anniversary of the
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president's crime commission of 1967 andch reported in led to huge legislation in 1968, the safe streets and crime control act, which covered a lot of these issues and many, many more. and i just have not seen any reference to it at all in the past year and it seems like it might help you. because i believe everyone from senator mcclellan to senator kennedy voted for that piece of legislation. sen. leahy: thank you. susan: i'm not sure there is a question there, but i guess one question is, how many senators are left who remember the historic ills of the 1960's? is that a useful frame of reference for your colleagues these days? not a senatorwas at that time. i was a prosecutor. i go back to history and i talk about these, i talk about the electronic privacy act, i talk the first 20, i was
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reminded by senator lee. "oh, yes, i was in grade school at that time." susan: so you have the millennials down, is that your part of the duo? sen. lee: that's right. susan: we've got to ask you about the presidential election. president leahy pointed out that it would be -- it will be a whole year away, even though it seems like it will be tomorrow. senator leahy, you are a much endorsement. are you ready to jump out there today and say who you are supporting? sen. leahy: are we out of time? sen. lee: i told my family, i never thought i would live to save this, but one of the weirdest things that can happen to a guy is to have three of his favorite coworkers running for
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president at the same time. i'm good friends with marco and land. have been ever since we ran for the senate at the same time. -- i'm good friends with marco and rand. andis also a good friend, for that matter, lindsey graham is also a person i enjoy. i'm not inclined to get into that at this point. thely because of awkwardness. we work with these people. they are good friends of mine. i think that process will play itself out. however long and arduous the process is, it will play itself out. susan: you are not endorsing president to be donald trump? [laughter] he is speechless. i made a senator speechless. seb lee: even to a nator, it happens once in a while. sen. leahy: if i could call my
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hair that way. susan: you have endorsed hillary clinton. sen. leahy: i have. i told secretary clinton. we were returning to a trip -- from a trip into haiti where i worked on restoration after the earthquake. she and her husband had been in on that and we went down to look at some of those programs. the way long talk on back, and i urged her to run for president, told her i would support her. this was long before my senate colleague, senator sanders, announced. i'm not going to say anything against senator sanders, who i admire. have that vermont attribute. i keep my word. susan: any predictions? you can tell us who will win the republican nomination. sen. leahy: i used to be able to pick these things out, but this has been a little bit different. know, it would be exciting
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to actually have -- it would not the candidates, but to have this undecided before the convention. i can remember a time -- i suppose there were long before i was in the senate, when conventions were actually -- there was some question. i guess the last one was president kennedy in san francisco. a political junkie's dream, right? every four years. someone reaches that brokered convention thing. who is going to win? willlee: i don't think we see a brokered convention now or in the foreseeable future. perhaps in our lifetimes. it's interesting. sen. leahy: oh, i don't know. [laughter] it's interesting though that it starts overly.
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i was told recently -- i hope i've got this right. kennedy announced his candidacy in what is now the kennedy caucus room in january 1960. that is when he launched his presidential campaign. it just seems like such a refreshing idea to have a start in the election. we border canada, and i saw prime minister trudeau , a number of weeks, and he gets elected, the first new prime minister elected in a decade. a lot of us wish we could have times like that. prime we should note that minister trudeau has the first 50% women in canada, so maybe we will see that. [applause] both senatorsk this morning. this has been a terrific conversation. we will come back and we will
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see how you did and unpack your after the passage of criminal justice reform. we will look at what worked and how long it took you to get there. fork you to all of you joining us. what a terrific conversation. thank you. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ♪ >> arkansas senator tom cotton
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speaks of the heritage foundation about disability insurance and proposed changes to the program. that's live at noon eastern tomorrow on c-span. tomorrow, the future of afghanistan with a politician who served as the country's minister for interior affairs. that is at the carnegie endowment for international peace. we have that at 3:30 p.m. eastern. communicators"he we discussed cyber security issues facing the u.s. and other countries. our guest talks about what the attacksdoing to avoid by china and russia. on the program, mr. lewis is joined by the cyber security reporter for politico. grandht now dhs is on a mission to defend cyberspace,
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but they do not have the resources. a bill in 2012 would have dealt with critical infrastructure -- probably not in the right way, and you saw the obama administration put out an executive order in 2013 that imposed very light requirements on critical infrastructure to protect the networks. congress needs to go back and ask if that is enough. communicators" monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. a look back at the criminal justice system from the perspective of two former inmates. they will talk about their incarceration and their experience in jail. from the american enterprise institute, this is an hour and 20 minutes.
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>> all right, ladies and gentlemen. thank you for coming. carney. i am a visiting fellow at the institutenterprise for your seen around the country this past year as discussion on criminal justice reform, over criminalization, all sorts of things. we're going to focus today on a specific aspect of that. let me just give my thoughts and part of why i picked this. i am catholic. on the other hand, i don't know and i do not think we will get into today whether we should be millionsp all of the
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of people we are locking up, whether that makes her country safer? that is a debate. once we put people in prison, are we doing anything to help them or are we just ruining lives? sentence,e a prison there is a deterring effect, so there is some good there. keeps dangerous criminals off the streets. there is some good there. but corrections facilities, are to makeng anything things better. once people are in prison, are they being harmed? are we treating them in a way that would benefit society or hurt society? i think we know the answer to that, maybe, but can we change that going forward. guys i know. former lobbyist and a
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former politician. on my right is kevin ring, a lawyer and a former republican aide. he passed through the revolving door, became a lobbyist in 1999. he wrote a book, which has been big reading with my brother in my house when he is preparing for lawsuit called "scalia's dissents." i guess you compiled these. he is now at the families against mandatory minimums. at my left, jeff smith, former missouri state senator, congressional candidate most of in aumbled upon documentary called "can mr. smith still go to washington?" and now he is an assistant principal in new york. i bring themat
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both here, they have both spent time in prison. so, not to hide the ball, white are you guys quickly, entertainingly -- why don't you guys quickly, entertainingly explain why you spent time in prison? i will make it funny. i was a lobbyist and i had the misfortune of working for jack ended up being the leader of the neighbor moffett scandal, a big scandal in the bush administration. basically charged with services fraud, which is a junior diversity, bribery. i contested those charges. i was ultimately found guilty. months in6 and a half a federal prison grant in cumberland, maryland. senator smith: what i have in my hand is jeff's new book, in the
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lobby, "mr. smith goes to prison," which tells the story very well. but you can -- sure.r smith: i was in the senate in missouri. i was on a panel. the moderator asked a question that was too intrusive, and i bludgeoned the moderator -- [laughter] forllent, i was running congress in 2004. i will try to convince this as much as i can. i was running against a dynasty candidates. -- dynasty candidate. we were trying to run a grassroots campaigning get over the half. two of my aides were approached buildonsultant who themselves as a practitioner of the political dark arts. he told my aides he wanted to put out a postcard detai


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