What is a SLAPP Suit?
Let's say you own a small business called "Policy Town Fajitas". You think your business is second-to-none. You've invested in it--time, sweat, money and otherwise ... But then, all of a sudden, one of your customers doesn't fancy your business as much as you do. So they post a negative review about your business on a site like Yelp. They say your "chicken fajitas taste like pigeon and that's how I know it's not authentic Mexican food."
If you're like most businesses, you try to improve (such as by switching to chicken meat). But some businesses try to turn the tables by putting the reviewer on the defensive.
Let's call the reviewer Mrs. Davis. So you file a lawsuit against Mrs. Davis that is simply designed to drive her absolutely nuts. Eventually, you hope, Mrs. Johnson will decide to delete her review.
That lawsuit is called a "strategic lawsuit against public participation", but we just call them SLAPP suits.
Now, we know you would NEVER serve up pigeon fajitas. But what are the policy implications of SLAPP suits, particularly as they relate to online freedom of speech?
Here to discuss SLAPP suits is Laurent Crenshaw (@LCrenshaw), Yelp's head of Federal Public Policy in Washington DC. At Yelp Laurent has championed the company’s federal efforts to protect consumer freedom of speech on the Internet, and worked to implement Yelp as a tool for the federal government.
Prior to joining Yelp in 2013, Laurent worked in the House of Representatives for over 11 years. During his tenure he served as the Legislative Director for Representative Darrell Issa focusing on technology policy issues, particularly in the areas of intellectual property, telecommunications and Internet law; and also worked in the offices of the House Majority Whip and House Republican Conference. Laurent successfully worked on numerous legislative efforts including the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act in 2011 and the fight to defeat SOPA and PIPA in Congress. Additionally, Laurent also serves on the board of directors for Public Knowledge and as a member of the American Library Association’s Public Policy Advisory Council.
Laurent obtained his undergraduate degree in International Relations from Stanford University in 2002 and his Juris Doctor degree from American University’s Washington College of Law in 2010.
Yelp's Public Policy Blog
SPEAK FREE Act (Congressional Anti-SLAPP Suits legislation)
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