Darrell E Issa
Lawmakers seek to end the muzzling of consumers by some businesses

Increasingly threatened by the prospect of bad reviews on Yelp and similar websites, some companies have a message for customers: Shut up — or else. You might not know it, but you could be giving up your right to criticize a business publicly if it has a so-called non-disparagement clause in its terms of service. Clicking "accept" or signing your name on the bottom line means you could be hit with thousands of dollars in penalties if you bad-mouth the company online or in any other venue. "Companies use these unjust terms to bully dissatisfied customers into silence," said Scott Michelman, a lawyer with the consumer watchdog Public Citizen. Now a...