CRE Homepage About The CRE Advisory Board Newsletter Search Links Representation Comments/Ideas
Reg Week Archives
Data Access
Data Quality
Regulation by Information
Regulation by Appropriation
Special Projects
CRE Watch List
Emerging Regulatory Issues
OMB Papers
Guest Column
Voluntary Standards Program
CRE Report Card
Public Docket Preparation
Interactive Public Docket
Electronic Regulatory Reform
Consumer Response Service
Site Search

Enter keyword(s) to search

Consumer Response Service

Negative Communication: Proliferation of Websites Targeting Selected Industry Projects

Few people can doubt any longer the impact of the Internet on global society, and companies are becoming increasingly aware of the power which the Internet has bestowed upon consumers. For example, a recent article in the Washington Post (David Segal and Caroline E. Mayer, "Sites for Sore Consumers," Washington Post, p. A1, March 28, 1999), discussed the proliferation of Internet sites by persons hostile to individual companies or industries. At minimal cost, websites can be erected by consumers angry about various products or services.

Where aggravated consumers were once limited to writing steaming letters to the manufacturer or venting to friends and acquaintances, the Internet has opened a potential audience of millions worldwide. Given First Amendment protections and the difficulty in making trademark infringement claims, businesses often face serious difficulties in countering such allegations, some of which are clearly based upon misinformation.

While such websites have clearly gained the attention of business, they essentially signal that a breakdown in the communication process has occurred. Such websites and the potential outrage they may incur (regardless of the fact) may lead to a hardening of positions. Ultimately, there could be an appeal to regulators or legislators to craft a solution. Such regulations are often costly to businesses, and these costs are generally passed on to consumers. CRE believes that alternative mechanisms for resolution are possible which can save time and resources and prevent unnecessary regulation.