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California strikes a blow for the First Amendment

September 16, 2014

That’s not something you read about a lot, since governments tend to be on the other side of thigns. But according to CNN, California has passed a law protecting your right to give poor reviews without fear of being sued.

(CNN) — Ready to rip apart that dirty restaurant with the rude service, strange-looking patty melts and lukewarm coffee? California lawmakers want to make sure you don’t get in financial, or legal, trouble because of it.

A state law signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown makes Yelp reviews a lot safer, saying that restaurants can’t pursue legal action for customers who give them negative reviews.

The text of the law specifically states that:

(a) (1) A contract or proposed contract for the sale or lease of consumer goods or services may not include a provision waiving the consumer’s right to make any statement regarding the seller or lessor or its employees or agents, or concerning the goods or services.

This is a proactive attempt to prevent a common policy of including a contract,that you’re not allowed to give bad reviews.  It’s been most notorious for some cases found on Yelp, but it impacts every form of review.

Now in some cases this is just formalizing what already exists– absent some very unusual situations, you have a right to say whatever you want about the business and their service.  So long as it’s your opinion and/or true.  The important thing here is that defending against a lawsuit can be very expensive and this law works to put the shoe on the other foot.

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