Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the new hot topic. And, as it should be. With more and more companies implementing some form of AI to market, communicate, and generally interact with consumers the lines have become blurred. Is it a real person on the other end of that chatbox, or is it a computer-generated AI chatbot? 

So, if you interact or communicate with someone in California using chatbots, listen up. As of July 1, 2019, you are now subject to California’s new Autobot Law. (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17940, et seq. (SB 1001). Not surprisingly, California leads the way with the nation’s first autobot regulation. The new enactment specifically targets companies that use chatbots to communicate or interact with someone in California, and who knowingly set out to deceive consumers. 

With a few exceptions, the law makes it illegal:

“for any person to use a bot to communicate or interact with another person in California online with the intent to mislead the other person about its artificial identity for the purpose of knowingly deceiving the person about the content of the communication in order to incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election.”

a. For purposes of this law, “Bot” is defined as an “automated online account where all or substantially all of the actions or posts of that account are not the result of a person.”

b. “Online” is defined as a chatbot “appearing on any public-facing Internet Web site, Web application, or digital application, including a social network or publication.

c. An “Online platform” means any public-facing Internet Web site, Web application, or digital application, including a social network or publication, that has 10,000,000 or more unique monthly United States visitors or users for a majority of months during the preceding 12 months.”

d. The law further defines a “Person” as a natural person, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, joint venture, association, estate, trust, government, governmental subdivision or agency, or other legal entity or any combination thereof.

California takes the protection of its consumers seriously, (as I discussed in my post on the new California Consumer Protection Act). If you fall into this category, consider how you need to comply and what the penalties are for noncompliance.

Until next time, be on the alert for the legal ramifications when using artificial intelligence (AI).

Francine D. Ward

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Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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