In a decision being hailed by Public Citizen as an important
one for Internet freedom, the Virginia Supreme court has vacated a lower court
decision mandating that a negative review of a contractor be pulled from review
On Dec. 7, a Fairfax County, Va., judge had required a woman
to remove parts of a negative review on Yelp and enjoined her from repeating
the claim in other reviews. She is being sued by the contractor for what he
alleges were false and defamatory statements.
Public citizen and the ACLU appealed that injunction, saying
the contractor needed first to prove the claims were false, after which he
could get damages, but that for the court to force her to remove the comments
before such a determination amounted to censorship. The Supreme Court ruled
that the injunction was not justified and agreed
with Public citizen and the ACLU that the contractor "had an adequate
remedy in law."
"The decision confirms the importance of not shutting down
public discussion on the Internet just because someone doesn't like what's
being talked about," said Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy. "Review sites
like Yelp are vehicles for the free flow of ideas by helping consumers make
informed decisions on how to spend their hard-earned dollars."