The television manufacturing giant Vizio has settled a $2,200,000 lawsuit over accusations that the company was spying on its customers and selling data and discreet details. The Federal Trade Commission along with the New Jersey Attorney General brought indictments that more than 11 million Vizio consumers were having their data viewed, collected, and sold without consent or awareness.
The main complaint involved a “Smart Interactivity” element in the TV that was supposed to essentially track what you watched and offer a customized viewing experience from there. This feature apparently didn’t even exist and was simply used to obtain the customer’s information or as the lawsuit states, “Defendants have not provided any ‘program offers or suggestions’ or ‘program-related information’ for most televisions for more than two years.”
The federal court order demands that Vizio is to make known all of their data collection techniques from this point forward so they are not falsifying anything to their consumer, in addition to the agreed upon financial compensation. It is also ordered that the company delete all data collected before March 1, 2016, and put into practice an “a comprehensive data privacy program and biennial assessments of that program,” according to the FTC press release.
These data points were likely sold to third parties as well, making matters worse. Usually companies have to ensure extensive disclosures, sign up processes, and EULA agreements in order to sell their customers’ information, but apparently, Vizio didn’t do enough on that end. It’s likely the company will be monitored closely by the FTC with regards to these sensitive marketing collection practices, as they should be.