Text: H.R.3956 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/24/2019)

 
[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 3956 Introduced in House (IH)]

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116th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 3956

 To protect consumers from deceptive practices with respect to online 
         booking of hotel reservations, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 24, 2019

Mr. Welch (for himself, Mr. Bilirakis, and Ms. Frankel) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                                Commerce

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To protect consumers from deceptive practices with respect to online 
         booking of hotel reservations, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 
2019''.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Affiliation contract.--The term ``affiliation 
        contract'' means, with respect to a hotel, a contract with the 
        owner of the hotel, the entity that manages the hotel, or the 
        franchisor of the hotel to provide online hotel reservation 
        services for the hotel.
            (2) Commission.--The term ``Commission'' means the Federal 
        Trade Commission.
            (3) Exhibition organizer or meeting planner.--The term 
        ``exhibition organizer or meeting planner'' means the person 
        responsible for all aspects of planning, promoting, and 
        producing a meeting, conference, event, or exhibition, 
        including overseeing and arranging all hotel reservation plans 
        and contracts for the meeting, conference, event, or 
        exhibition.
            (4) Official housing bureau.--The term ``official housing 
        bureau'' means the organization designated by an exhibition 
        organizer or meeting planner to provide hotel reservation 
        services for meetings, conferences, events, or exhibitions.
            (5) Party directly affiliated.--The term ``party directly 
        affiliated'' means, with respect to a hotel, a person who has 
        entered into an affiliation contract with the hotel.
            (6) Third party online hotel reservation seller.--The term 
        ``third party online hotel reservation seller'' means any 
        person that--
                    (A) sells any good or service with respect to a 
                hotel in a transaction effected on the internet; and
                    (B) is not--
                            (i) a party directly affiliated with the 
                        hotel; or
                            (ii) an exhibition organizer or meeting 
                        planner or the official housing bureau for a 
                        meeting, conference, event, or exhibition held 
                        at the hotel.

SEC. 3. REQUIREMENTS FOR THIRD PARTY ONLINE HOTEL RESERVATION SELLERS.

    (a) Requirement.--It shall be unlawful for a third party online 
hotel reservation seller to advertise, market, or promote the sale of a 
hotel room reservation or charge or attempt to charge any consumer's 
credit card, debit card, bank account, or other financial account for 
any good or service sold in a transaction effected on the internet, if 
the third party online hotel reservation seller states or implies that 
it is, or is affiliated with, the person who owns the hotel or provides 
the hotel services or accommodations.
    (b) Enforcement by Commission.--
            (1) Unfair or deceptive acts or practices.--A violation of 
        subsection (a) by a person subject to such subsection shall be 
        treated as a violation of a rule defining an unfair or 
        deceptive act or practice prescribed under section 18(a)(1)(B) 
        of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 57a(a)(1)(B)).
            (2) Powers of commission.--
                    (A) In general.--The Commission shall enforce this 
                section in the same manner, by the same means, and with 
                the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as though all 
                applicable terms and provisions of the Federal Trade 
                Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et seq.) were incorporated 
                into and made a part of this Act.
                    (B) Privileges and immunities.--Any person who 
                violates this section shall be subject to the penalties 
                and entitled to the privileges and immunities provided 
                in the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 41 et 
                seq.).
                    (C) Rulemaking.--
                            (i) In general.--The Commission may 
                        promulgate such rules as the Commission 
                        considers appropriate to enforce this section.
                            (ii) Procedures.--The Commission shall 
                        carry out any rulemaking under clause (i) in 
                        accordance with section 553 of title 5, United 
                        States Code.
    (c) Enforcement by States.--
            (1) In general.--In any case in which the attorney general 
        of a State has reason to believe that an interest of the 
        residents of the State has been or is being threatened or 
        adversely affected by the engagement of any person subject to 
        subsection (a) in a practice that violates such subsection, the 
        attorney general of the State may, as parens patriae, bring a 
        civil action on behalf of the residents of the State in an 
        appropriate district court of the United States to obtain 
        appropriate relief.
            (2) Rights of federal trade commission.--
                    (A) Notice to federal trade commission.--
                            (i) In general.--Except as provided in 
                        clause (iii), the attorney general of a State 
                        shall notify the Commission in writing that the 
                        attorney general intends to bring a civil 
                        action under paragraph (1) before initiating 
                        any civil action against a person subject to 
                        subsection (a).
                            (ii) Contents.--The notification required 
                        under clause (i) with respect to a civil action 
                        shall include a copy of the complaint to be 
                        filed to initiate the civil action.
                            (iii) Exception.--If it is not feasible for 
                        the attorney general of a State to provide the 
                        notification required by clause (i) before 
                        initiating a civil action under paragraph (1), 
                        the attorney general shall notify the 
                        Commission immediately upon instituting the 
                        civil action.
                    (B) Intervention by federal trade commission.--The 
                Commission may--
                            (i) intervene in any civil action brought 
                        by the attorney general of a State under 
                        paragraph (1); and
                            (ii) upon intervening--
                                    (I) be heard on all matters arising 
                                in the civil action; and
                                    (II) file petitions for appeal of a 
                                decision in the civil action.
            (3) Investigatory powers.--Nothing in this subsection may 
        be construed to prevent the attorney general of a State from 
        exercising the powers conferred on the attorney general by the 
        laws of the State--
                    (A) to conduct investigations;
                    (B) to administer oaths or affirmations; or
                    (C) to compel the attendance of witnesses or the 
                production of documentary or other evidence.
            (4) State coordination with federal trade commission.--If 
        the Commission institutes a civil action or an administrative 
        action with respect to a violation of subsection (a), the 
        attorney general of a State shall coordinate with the 
        Commission before bringing a civil action under paragraph (1) 
        against any defendant named in the complaint of the Commission 
        for the violation with respect to which the Commission 
        instituted such action.
            (5) Venue; service of process.--
                    (A) Venue.--Any action brought under paragraph (1) 
                may be brought in--
                            (i) the district court of the United States 
                        that meets applicable requirements relating to 
                        venue under section 1391 of title 28, United 
                        States Code; or
                            (ii) another court of competent 
                        jurisdiction.
                    (B) Service of process.--In an action brought under 
                paragraph (1), process may be served in any district in 
                which the defendant--
                            (i) is an inhabitant; or
                            (ii) may be found.
            (6) Actions by other state officials.--
                    (A) In general.--In addition to civil actions 
                brought by attorneys general under paragraph (1), any 
                other officer of a State who is authorized by the State 
                to do so may bring a civil action under paragraph (1), 
                subject to the same requirements and limitations that 
                apply under this subsection to civil actions brought by 
                attorneys general.
                    (B) Savings provision.--Nothing in this subsection 
                may be construed to prohibit an authorized official of 
                a State from initiating or continuing any proceeding in 
                a court of the State for a violation of any civil or 
                criminal law of the State.
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