LOS ANGELES -- Houzz, an online platform for home remodeling and design, headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, reached a settlement with the State of California to pay $175,000 for violating the state's privacy laws.
According to California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris, from March 2013 to September 2013, Houzz Inc.'s Irvine, CA, office recorded incoming and outgoing telephone calls, intended for training and quality-assurance purposes, without notifying all parties on the call that they were being recorded.
Along with the $175,000 fine, Houzz has also been required to secure and destroy the recordings.
Houzz acquired GardenWeb, the long-standing home and gardening community, from NBCUniversal.
“Houzz violated the trust of its professionals, customers, and employees by recording calls without permission,” said Attorney General Harris. “This settlement holds Houzz accountable for violating state privacy laws and ensures that the company will stop recording calls without permission.”
The settlement, which is in the form of a stipulated judgment, will require Houzz to appoint an individual to serve in a Chief Privacy Officer capacity who will oversee Houzz’s compliance with privacy laws and report any significant concerns to the Chief Executive Officer and/or other senior executives.
Also, Houzz will be required to conduct a privacy risk assessment addressing its efforts to comply with applicable privacy laws governing its U.S. operations. The privacy risk assessment will evaluate issues that are implicated by Houzz’s business processes, use of technology, and processes related to any business partners with whom Houzz shares personal information, as well as Houzz’s efforts to mitigate or avoid any adverse effects on individuals in the United States.
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