California Assemblyman Pushes One-Click Cancellation of Pay TV Services

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has introduced a bill that would allow pay TV and Internet customers to cancel their services online, instead of having to call their service provider.

The bill, AB 2867, would update the state’s civil code to require pay TV and Internet service providers that offer sign-up for services online to make it just as easy to cancel. “If a cable or Internet service provider enables an individual to subscribe to its services through an Internet website, it shall also enable all of its customers to cancel their subscriptions through the Internet Web site,” the bill reads.

Gatto said he introduced the bill in part due to a July 2014 audio clip of Ryan Block, a podcaster and former editor-in-chief of Engadget, trying to cancel his service with Comcast. Block spent nearly 20 minutes with a Comcast customer service representative, who refused to let Block cancel.

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“AB 2867 allows Californians to conveniently unsubscribe from a service with a simple click of the mouse,” Gatto said in a statement. "It just makes sense, that if you are able to sign up for a service online, you should also be able to cancel it the same way.

"There are times when we, as the legislature, need to step in to protect consumers and make people's lives a little easier. This is one of those times.”

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Gatto, who sits on the California State Assembly's Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, made headlines in 2015 when he introduced a bill that would require TVs with voice recognition to disable the feature until a consumer consented to using it. That bill was signed into law in October.

“A family’s home is their castle,” Gatto said at the time. “Yet new technologies have breached the walls, and now even a family’s most private moments are at risk from the big data hordes. AB 1116 will give the consumer the ability to personally determine the level of privacy protections inside their home. We’re not trying to stymie technological advances or fetter profit margins. The television industry has survived for nearly 100 years without knowing what I said to my wife during an episode of The Bachelor.”