Californians are now protected from smart-TV eavesdropping under new law, Assembly Bill 1116, which requires that smart-TV manufacturers ensure that voice-recognition features will not be enabled without consumer consent, and bars them from recording conversations for advertising purposes. For those smart-TV manufacturers that fail to implement privacy safeguards in accordance with this new law, the state attorney general or district attorney can prosecute those companies, and seek injunctive relief and a civil penalty up to $2,500 per violation; there is no private right of action under this new law.
Smart-TV manufacturers must also notify consumers that their voices may be recorded and transmitted to the manufacturers or third-parties. Assemblyman Mike Gatto, who also serves as the Chairman of the California Assembly’s Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, said, “We’re not trying to stymie technological advances or fetter profit margins. The television industry has survived for over half a century without knowing what I said to my wife during an episode of ‘The Bachelor.’” The law goes into effect January 1, 2016.