Feb 6, 2017

FTC fines Vizio for secretly collecting viewer data on TVs

Kim Hart, author of Cities

kennejima / Flickr Creative Commons

Vizio, one of the world's largest makers of smart TVs, is agreeing to pay a $2.2 million fine to settle charges brought by the FTC and New Jersey Attorney General for collecting viewing data on 11 million TVs without their knowledge. As part of the settlement, Vizio must obtain consent for collecting and sharing data and implement a privacy program, according to the FTC.

Why it matters: As more devices are connected to the Internet and each other, electronics makers are able to collect an enormous amount of data about users, from TV-watching habits to a variety of specific activities taking place on a consumer's home network. Some TVs have even been found to be recording living room conversations. That data can then be combined with demographic data, such as age and income, to form a fairly detailed view of a customer. In this case, Vizio allegedly sold information to third parties to, for example, target ads to people across multiple devices, according to the complaint. In other words, pay attention to those privacy policies when you buy new devices.

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