If you purchased a Vizio Smart TV after February 2014 it looks like it might have. According to the Federal Trade Commission Vizio knowingly installed software specifically designed to harvest customer viewing data on more than 11 million TV sets without consumers’ knowledge or consent. As a result, Vizio has agreed to pay $2.2 million dollars to the FTC and the New Jersey’s Office of The Attorney General in order to settle the  lawsuit.

 

In the lawsuit levied by the FTC, Vizio is believed to have collected up-to-the-minute information about any video displayed on the screen. This included video from cable, broadband, set-top boxes, game systems, DVDs, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. If that’s not enough Vizio then sold the collected data, which also included IP addresses, to third party advertisers. With the IP addresses the collected data could be matched to the owner and household.

 

According to the FTC investigation, Vizio touted “smart interactivity” as a feature that “enables program offers and suggestions” but failed to inform consumers that the settings also enabled the collection of consumers’ viewing data. Vizio’s data tracking, which occurred without viewers’ informed consent, was unfair and deceptive and in violation of the FTC Act and New Jersey consumer protection laws.

 

As part of the settlement, Vizio is required to pay $1.5 million to the FTC and $1 million to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. In the future, Vizio also has to “prominently disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data collection and sharing practices”. As part of the settlement Vizio is required to delete any data it collected prior to March 1, 2016. In addition, Vizio has to enforce a privacy program that evaluates its use of consumer data on a regular basis.

 

Prior to the announcement of the settlement, Vizio updated its on screen and online disclosures to notify consumers about its data collection. Vizio now informs consumers that they have the ability to turn the feature on or off.

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