California online dating law
Jeff Tsai A newly amended version of California's Automatic Renewal Law ARL is now in force, putting into effect additional requirements to what is arguably the country's stiffest consumer-protection law focused on subscription-style plans. Although numerous laws in other states and the federal Restore Online Shoppers' Confidence Act provide similar enforcement regimes, the amended ARL — which went into effect July 1 — further underscores the California law's status as the highwater mark for regulation in this space. Since its operative enactment on December 1,the ARL has been a favorite tool for both the plaintiff bar and government enforcers.
E-commerce companies across industries — from streaming music to identity security to online dating — have been the subject of ARL actions. However, California companies are not alone in facing the ARL's impact. Indeed, any company doing business should take notice of the ARL and prepare for its new requirements. Broadly speaking, the ARL imposes five requirements for any business that makes an "automatic renewal or continuous service"2 offer to a California consumer: The offer must be presented in a "clear and conspicuous manner" and done so before the agreement is consummated and in "visual proximity" to the request for consent. The consumer must first provide "affirmative consent" to the offers agreement before charging.
The business must provide the consumer with a retainable acknowledgement of a the offer's terms; b the cancellation policy; and c information about how to California online dating law, as described below. In the event of a "free trial," there must be a disclosure about how to California online dating law an allowance for cancellation—before the consumer pays for the good or service. It is acceptable for the acknowledgement to be fulfilled after the completion of the initial order. The business must provide a cancellation method which is a a toll-free telephone number; b an email address; c a postal address, if the seller directly bills the consumer; or d another "cost-effective, timely, California online dating law easy-to-use mechanism.
Notice of material change. A "material" change in an offer's terms must be noticed to the consumer—prior to implementation of the change—in a "clear and conspicuous" way if the California consumer had earlier accepted the offer. This notice must also provide retainable information about how to cancel the accepted offer. For many of the companies, if not most, that have been impacted already by the ARL, the law now requires them to allow a consumer to cancel an offer exclusively online if the consumer accepted the offer online. A statutorily acceptable, but not mandated, method may include a "termination email" that the company formats and provides for the consumer to send without additional information.
Affirmative consent to an offer under special pricing. The company's obligation to obtain affirmative consent to the agreement containing the offer's terms now explicitly includes those terms related to an offer made at a "promotional or discounted price for a limited period of time. New disclosures related to free gifts or trials. In two parts of the ARL, the law imposes additional provisions targeting free gifts or trials included as part of an automatic renewal or continuous service. Clear and conspicuous pricing.
An offer that includes a free gift or trial must have a "clear and conspicuous explanation" of the offer's pricing or change in pricing upon the trial's end. In an obscure change that has largely been overlooked by most commentators, the ARL now includes the term "gift" in the provision that, previously written, related to the acknowledgement disclosure that companies must provide a consumer for an offer that "includes a free trial. What it is, what it's not and what it means There are several important takeaways from the ARL's new provisions. The first of these is that, with adequate planning, these new obligations do not need to be cost-prohibitive to implement — especially as compared to after-the-fact enforcement by government regulators.
The requirement likely to consume most companies' time relates to the online cancellation option that a company must provide to consumers if the consumers accepted their offers online. For many e-commerce companies, online cancellation is already a function in their business — and could, in fact, provide cost-saving streamlining in the customer service process. However, those e-commerce companies that do not currently provide for any form of online cancellation should consider it a compliance priority. For government enforcers such as the California Attorney General's Office and California's county district attorneys, inspection of companies' online e-commerce business is a simple matter of searching the Internet — indeed, to date, several cases have been investigated and suits filed.
In this new version of the ARL, free gifts and trials and, in this regard, promotional pricing now have prominence — an issue that the California Senate's author made a specific effort to mention in the bill's introduction. Although specific in nature, this suite of provisions could have a significant impact on companies affected by the ARL. Most, if not all, companies in this space engage in a degree of special pricing or otherwise provide for free gifts and product trials to entice consumers. As a result, many — if not all — ARL companies must examine whether their affirmative-consent mechanisms address promotional or discounted pricing.
Additionally, free gifts — not just free trials — will now trigger a disclosure in the post-purchase acknowledgement so that a consumer has the option and ability to cancel before payment is required. In many ways, the new ARL is not unexpected given California's aggressive approach to regulatory frameworks. In the meantime, companies affected by the ARL should closely examine their e-commerce processes to ensure early compliance with these new provisions. Learn more by contacting the author. We analyzed this important development in a Litigation Alert on March 16,which can be accessed here. An "automatic renewal" is defined as a "plan or arrangement in which a paid subscription or purchasing agreement is automatically renewed at the end of a definite term for a subsequent term.
Among other things, Vermont House Bill will require a Vermont consumer to make some kind of "affirmative action to opt in" to an automatic-renewal provision. This opt-in consent is "in addition to accepting the contract.
This town will get its heat from an unlikely source: a data center
Perhaps the court was influenced by the subscription in question i. In these cases, the courts have enforced or dismissed the civil claims against the internet dating service for various reasons.
In order to hold the online dating service liable for breach of contract, the plaintiff must allege that it has breached a promise that was actually part of the contract. I understand why California online dating law court was less charitable to Grindr here. Still, the California online dating law of online dating sites might be a good prompt California online dating law the legislature to reconsider the law and ensure its late Proverbs dating tracks the modern concerns. This reminded me a lot of the debates around eBay in the s. I understand why Kenya sex adult dating site court was less charitable to Grindr here.
As in the STL cases, perhaps the California online dating law got its radar up when it sensed a lawsuit that was driven by a technical violation of the statute, rather than real economic harm. In order to hold the online dating service liable for breach of contract, the plaintiff must allege that it has breached a promise that was actually part of the contract. This reminded me a lot of the women around eBay in the s. The court does grant leave to amend. These terms and conditions usually mention that the service cannot guarantee and assume responsibility for verifying the accuracy of the information provided by users.
Online Privacy Protection Act
It also punts on the Article Caljfornia standing issue, given that it dismissed for failure to allege statutory standing. The typical claims against the internet Caljfornia service may be for breach of contract, negligence, deceptive trade pnline, Lanham Act violation, failure to warn, invasion of privacy, defamation, or fraud. Still, the emergence adting online dating California online dating law might be a serial California online dating law for the legislature to reconsider the law Aggressive female sex ensure its regulatory scope tracks the modern concerns.
In some cases, the internet dating service may facilitate sexual encounters between its members, which can lead to its member being arrested for having sex with a minor. In recent years, the internet dating services have been targets of lawsuits. I understand why the court was less charitable to Grindr here. Here, Grindr had good policy arguments that the assumptions embedded into a statute governing high-pressure face-to-face sales should not apply to an online-only process. I accept a little with Venkat about the likelihood Grindr was blindsided by this law.
It is important to note that each of the aforesaid claims requires specific elements and supporting evidence to pass muster in court. In general, the online dating services require their members to submit a profile, which may include personal information e.