On October 2, 2015, California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that her office settled a lawsuit against home design website, Houzz Inc. (“Houzz”). Houzz was charged with secretly recording incoming and outgoing telephone calls for training and quality assurance purposes without notifying its customers, employees or call recipients, in violation of California eavesdropping and wiretapping laws. As part of the settlement, the Attorney General required Houzz to destroy the recordings, pay a fine of $175,000 and hire a Chief Privacy Officer to supervise its compliance with privacy laws and conduct privacy risk evaluations to assess Houzz’s privacy practices. This is the first time that the Attorney General has required the hiring of a Chief Privacy Officer as part of a settlement.
According to the Attorney General’s press release, the requirement of hiring a Chief Privacy Officer “is a significant step that is aligned with Attorney General Harris’ ongoing efforts to preserve California businesses’ ability to innovate while ensuring that consumers’ right to privacy is protected.”