Support for SPEAK FREE Act Keeps Rolling In!

May 27, 15

Since H.R. 2304, the SPEAK FREE Act of 2015, was introduced in the House on May 13, 2015, numerous organizations and individuals have voiced their support for this important bill.  Additionally, two more co-sponsors have also been added to the bill: Tom Marino, R-PA, and Randy Forbes, R-VA.

Here are just some examples of the support that the introduction has been getting:

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

“EFF applauds the bipartisan effort of the representatives who introduced the SPEAK FREE Act. We hope Congress will quickly act on this important legislation.”

Internet Association:

“The Internet Association applauds this effort to create a national standard for protecting freedom of speech online,” said Michael Beckerman, President and CEO of the Internet Association. “While certain states have passed laws to stem the tide of meritless lawsuits filed for the sole purpose of stifling public debate, it is time that we address the issue on a federal level. The right to free speech – including online reviews and comments from customers – is critical to our rights as Americans and should not be curtailed.”

 Consumer Electronics Association:

“We commend Representatives Farenthold, Eshoo, Issa, Polis and Franks for addressing the growing threats to the First Amendment rights of American consumers – specifically, SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) used to silence users of online review sites. The threat of these lawsuits may also deter American innovation – why start an online review service, if you and your users can be threatened and sued simply for sharing your opinions?”

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation:

“ITIF commends Representatives Farenthold, Eshoo, Issa, and Franks for introducing this important piece of legislation which will protect consumers from frivolous lawsuits intended to silence legit online speech, such as complaints about products or services.”

Yelp:

“The SPEAK FREE Act will allow federal courts nationwide to determine whether a lawsuit targeting speech is a SLAPP. For those living in states still lacking an effective anti-SLAPP law this will provide a robust way to fight abusive litigation at the federal level. Plus, it will allow defendants who prevail on an anti-SLAPP motion to collect attorneys fees from the plaintiff to make up for the financial burden of having been targeted with a meritless lawsuit in the first place. Of course, the proposed law would still allow plaintiffs to move forward with valid defamation claims if they have them.”

Techdirt:

“It would be a huge boost to freedom of expression to have this become law. ”

 The Legal Satyricon:

“The final version is pretty damn good.”

The Consumerist:

“In short, SLAPP suits suck. They prevent people from fairly (or unfairly) speaking their mind, and use intimidation as a means of silencing. The legal battles, when they do come, can be intense and long-lasting — even when filed in one of the states that has an anti-SLAPP statute on the books. And so members of Congress want to act to make SLAPP suits against the law nationwide.”

Popehat:

“On balance, good. It’s past time to have a federal anti-SLAPP statute. It would render moot the disputes over whether state laws apply in federal court, and would allow defendants to attack frivolous federal claims used to attack speech.

Mark Lemley:

“Happy that my Congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, is one of the sponsors of the bipartisan federal anti-#SLAPP bill.”

Innovation Movement:

“Thanks @Randy_Forbes for your leadership to protect free speech everywhere, including online, by cosponsoring SPEAK FREE Act #antiSLAPP

Association of Alternative Newsmedia:

“AAN will fully engage on this bill and we ask that you throw your support behind it as well. Please consider contacting your Representative and asking him or her to support this legislation or, better yet, to sign on as a co-sponsor.”

Media Alliance:

“As long-time advocates for civic engagement, public participation, whistleblower rights, and the right of principled dissent, we see the Speak Free Act as a needed corrective for a common form of abuse of the judicial system.”

American Society of News Editors:

“Although about 30 states currently have Anti-SLAPP laws (SLAPP stands for “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”), which make it easier to fight back against frivolous lawsuits designed to simply silence critical speech, the absence of these laws is felt in the balance of the states and when lawsuits (often defamation lawsuits) are filed in federal courts. The Speak Free Act is the latest attempt to fill these gaps. We believe this bill will provide important protections for ASNE members on a regular basis and intend to do everything possible to make sure it is enacted. ”

Public Participation Project:

PPP founder and Board President Mark Goldowitz, who is also the Director of the California Anti-SLAPP Project, said, “This is a historic occasion. After more than six years of hard work, and with support from more than 100 organizations and businesses, for the first time a bi-partisan bill to enact federal anti-SLAPP legislation has been introduced in Congress. What a great day!”

3 Comments

  1. Mike Levelchek /

    As usual, the government is listed as exempt from the law:

    “(1) ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS.—The court shall not grant a special motion to dismiss under this section if the claim is an enforcement action brought by an agency or entity of the Federal Government or a State or local government.”

    This is unfortunate, since a government SLAPP hurts the worst. From sending out codes to run you through the mill, to public works tearing out your sidewalk for a repair that never gets completed, all the way to filing phoney criminal charges against you, there’s not much they can’t (or won’t) do. But then the reduction of power by the powerful will always be a less-than-sincere effort.

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