California's Bot Law Explained | Internet Law Made Easy

E-commerce: What You Need To Know About The New Bot Disclosure Law

picture of android bot to accompany post about california's new chatbot lawCalifornia unveiled a new marketing regulation affecting e-commerce websites. If you run an online store, take two minutes to read about the Golden State’s new bot law. Doing so could mean the difference between catching a colossal fine and dodging one.

California’s New E-commerce Bot Law Explained

E-commerce is a 29-trillion-dollar industry. Over the years, online shopping websites have evolved from digital magazines into interactive platforms with helpful chatbots.

But there’s a rub: some people may not realize they’re talking to a robot. It’s got California legislators concerned, so they whipped up a statute.

California’s new bot law reads:

“[It is]unlawful for any person to use a bot to communicate or interact with another person in California online, with the intent to mislead the 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.”

Under California’s new bot law, disclosures must be clear, conspicuous, appropriately designed and displayed near the bot, not buried under a link in the fine print. Lastly, bot disclosures must be in the affirmative. For example:

  • BAD: I am not a person
  • GOOD: I am a bot

Exceptions exist. Web hosting and Internet service providers that field over 10 million monthly inquiries aren’t beholden to the bill.

California’s Bot Disclosure Law: Violation Consequences

What’s the punishment for violating California’s bot disclosure law? Interestingly, the bill didn’t spell out consequences. Most likely, misleading advertising parameters will apply, which can trigger a 6-month incarceration stint and fines up to $2,500 per incident.

Who must adhere to California’s bot disclosure law?

If your website or app is accessible to people in California, you must comply with the new California bot disclosure law.

Reminder: All E-commerce Websites Must Adhere to FTC Guidelines

California’s new bot disclosure law isn’t the only online marketing rule. The Federal Trade Commission has outlined myriad regulations to which all websites operating within the United States must adhere. Click here for a list.

Connect with a California E-commerce Attorney

The Gordon Law Group’s California team works with e-commerce businesses on everything from contract drafting to online marketing compliance. Get in touch today to learn how we can enhance your business and help keep money in your pocket via proper compliance and better business positioning.

Connect with an E-commerce Lawyer »