you talking to a real person online or a bot? In California, bots will
need to identify themselves thanks to a new bill just
signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.
measure bans automated accounts from pretending to be real people in
order to "incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a
commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election,"
effective July 1, 2019. Automated accounts will still be able to
interact with users, but they will have to disclose that they are not,
in fact, humans, according to NBC.
can't hide in the fine print either; the bill states that disclosures
must be "clear, conspicuous, and reasonably designed," which means it
will probably have to appear in the bot's Twitter bio or Facebook
profile, for example.
smaller platforms, however, this law won't apply. According to the
bill, "online platform" means a website or application that has 10
million or more unique monthly visitors from the US for a majority of
months over the previous year.
bill comes as state and local officials are trying to shore up
election systems ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections in the US. Bots
were a big problem during
the 2016 election and something platforms like
Twitter have been trying
to combat. But many of these bot campaigns originate
overseas—particularly in Russia, according to US officials—so it's
unlikely a California law will deter foreign actors from unleashing
you might see more clear signage from reputable businesses that have embraced
chatbots. Especially as companies embrace artificial
intelligence for customer service purposes, like
bot bill, meanwhile, was somewhat overshadowed by the net neutrality
legislation Gov. Brown signed this week. It basically adopts the
now-defunct Obama-era internet regulations and applies them to
California, which prompted
a lawsuit from the Trump administration.