Ninth Circuit Affirms That Yelp! Can Use Hardball Sales Tactics To Sell Advertising To Businesses

Author: Scripta Ad Astra Staff

On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling in Levitt v. Yelp! Inc. dismissing an action by a group of small businesses that Yelp! extorted, or used extortionate sales tactics, to induce small businesses to purchase advertising with Yelp! in violation of the federal Hobbs Act (civil extortion) and the California Unfair Competition Law. The plaintiffs generally claimed that Yelp! sales people contacted them about purchasing advertising services in connection with their Yelp! pages. When the plaintiffs declined to purchase the advertising, the plaintiffs alleged that Yelp! manipulated its service to lead to a downgrade in the businesses ratings. The plaintiffs alleged that such tactics included removing positive reviews, re-posting negative reviews that had previously been taken down, allowing more negative reviews to appear first, and even authored negative reviews.

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Congress Readies Itself to Tackle Cybersecurity Legislation

Written by Keenan W. Ng

With Congress coming back from its summer recess, it will be focusing on a few cybersecurity related bills. One of the most controversial of these bills is the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (“the Act”), introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) for the fourth consecutive year. The Act is supposed to “improve cybersecurity in the United Sates through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.” While some of the ideas and the language behind the Act seem reasonable and commonsense, the devil is in the details- or rather, the definitions in the Act- and could have some very interesting implications for individuals and businesses.

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