September 12, 2016–The House today approved a resolution (HRes 847) expressing House support for a national Internet of things strategy, and a bill (HR 1301) that is designed to protect the rights of amateur radio operators to use equipment in deed-restricted communities. The House early this evening passed HRes 847 by a 367-4 vote. Earlier, it passed HR 1301 by voice vote.
HRes 847 was introduced by Rep. Leonard Lance (R., N.J.), while HR 1301, the Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2016, was introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.). “During times of emergency service, such as following a hurricane or tornado, amateur radio operators are able to use their skills and equipment to create a network of communications for first responders when other wired or wireless networks are taken down. A vital and lifesaving function,” Rep. Kinzinger said in a statement. “This legislation would change current regulations hampering the ability of amateur radio operators to effectively communicate in certain areas, while respecting and maintaining the rights of local communities in which many of these operators reside.”
Rep. Kinzinger said on the House floor late this afternoon that the final language in his bill reflected a compromise, and he praised the American Radio Relay League, which represents amateur operators, and the Community Associations Institute, which represents community associations, for working with lawmakers on the legislation.
“Our goal in Congress should be to help the Internet of things thrive,” Rep. Lance said on the House floor of HRes 847.
HR 1301 would require the FCC within 120 days to amend its rules “by adding a new paragraph that prohibits the application to amateur stations of any private land use restriction, including a restrictive covenant, that—(1) on its face or as applied, precludes communications in an amateur radio service; (2) fails to permit a licensee in an amateur radio service to install and maintain an effective outdoor antenna on property under the exclusive use or control of the licensee; or (3) does not constitute the minimum practicable restriction on such communications to accomplish the lawful purposes of a community association seeking to enforce such restriction.”
The House today also passed by voice votes the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (HR 5111), which was also introduced by Rep. Lance, and the Better On-line Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016 (HR 5104), which was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.).
HR 5111 would authorize the Federal Trade Commission to enforce a ban on the use of contract clauses that restrict consumers’ ability to comment on goods and services, while HR 5104 would “empower the FTC to stop software used to buy up swaths of event tickets over defense measures put in place by ticket sellers.” Yelp and TechNet praised passage of HR 5111. Laurent Crenshaw, director-public policy for Yelp, said the company “applauds the House for quickly moving on this bill. The protection of free speech and expression, both online and off, should be a top priority of our government, and all Americans.”
“With the passage of the Consumer Review Fairness Act, the House has struck a blow against businesses that seek to punish consumers for posting negative reviews online,” said Linda Moore, president and chief executive officer of TechNet. “Online reviews have become an integral part of daily life. With nearly 70 percent of consumers relying on them to make a purchase, consumers should never second-guess posting a candid review for fear of retaliation. By banning the use of non-disparagement clauses, consumers can post honest reviews and hold bad businesses accountable without punishment.”
Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), said, “We commend the House for passing the Consumer Review Fairness Act because the protections offered in the bill will help ensure that the benefits of lawful free speech continue in the digital marketplace and that non-disparagement clauses aren’t used to silence citizens’ basic rights to freedom of expression in the digital marketplace.
Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman said, “Protecting freedom of expression online is crucial to the continued success of the internet. Form contract clauses designed to stifle consumers’ rights to comment on a company’s goods or services are not only wrong, but run afoul of the strong free speech principles that underpin online communication. The internet industry applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for helping protect free speech online by passing the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.” —Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org