Subcommittee Examines Legislation to Protect Free Speech

The Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday to examine legislation to protect free speech. H.R. 2304, the “SPEAK Free Act.” This “anti-SLAPP” legislation is designed to curb abusive, strategic lawsuits against public policy often filed against online reviewers, citizen journalists, and others to stifle free speech with expensive litigation.

The SPEAK Free Act allows defendants to stop these suits early in the litigation process, before expensive attorney’s fees are accrued by allowing a special motion to dismiss, and stay on discovery. SLAPPs are lawsuits generally filed to silence critics because it is too costly for the average American to defend themselves in court, denying them their First Amendment rights.

In the 21st Century, people should not have to fear bankruptcy for posting an honest review on sites like Yelp or Amazon. No one should fear being silenced by someone with money who is abusing our legal system.

Supporters of the SPEAK Free Act include Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Tumblr, Glassdoor, the Public Participation Project (PPI), Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and Internet Association (IA).


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