Support Our Defense of Free Speech Online

Public Citizen is representing two consumers who are fighting back against retaliation from a business they reviewed online.

John Palmer ordered Christmas gifts from an online retailer called KlearGear.com. The items never arrived, so John’s wife, Jen, posted a critical but factual review about the company on RipoffReport.com, a popular consumer website.

KlearGear then demanded $3,500 from the Palmers, citing absurd language in its fine-print terms of service that the company claims allowed it to assess such a penalty for anything customers might do that “negatively impacts” its reputation. The Palmers, understandably, refused to pay, so KlearGear reported the alleged “debt” to credit agencies, ruining John’s credit.

This case is part of our broader work protecting online speech and online privacy. Our legal team has defended message board operators sued over the speech of individual posters, defended anonymous online speakers from frivolous lawsuits intended to scare them into silence, defended the use of trademarks in domain names of websites devoted to discussion of brand-name products and services, and fought efforts to use contractual fine print to retaliate against unsatisfied customers who post unfavorable reviews.

As always, we are working pro bono. But discovery, travel, and other costs for this litigation could be extensive.

Make a tax-deductible contribution to Public Citizen Foundation to support our work on this and other cases defending free speech online.

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