February 6th, 2017, 21:40 PM
Vizio to pay $2.2M on smart TV data gathering
TV maker Vizio is paying $2.2 million to settle charges over software on some of its smart TVs used to collect viewing data without consumers' consent.
Starting in February 2014, Vizio captured information on 11 million consumer TVs about information about what viewers were watching on cable, streaming services and over-the-air broadcasts without TV owners' knowledge or consent, according to a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General. The agencies announced the settlement Monday.
That information, along with demographics data including sex, age, income, marital status and home ownership, was sold to third parties who used it for targeting advertising and other purposes, the agencies charged.
Under the federal court order, Vizio is required to get consent for data collection and sharing, and prohibits misrepresentations about confidentiality of data collected. Vizio must delete any data collected before March 1, 2016 also, and implement a comprehensive data privacy program with reviews of the program every two years.
"This settlement stops Vizio's unauthorized tracking, and makes clear that smart TV makers should get people’s consent before collecting and sharing television viewing information," writes Kevin Moriarty, an attorney with the FTC's division of privacy and identity protection, in a blog post today.
He noted that consumers with older Vizio TVs can find information about the automated content recognition software in the TV settings menu.
Vizio General Counsel Jerry Huang noted in a statement sent to USA TODAY that its software “never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise."
The resolution, he said, "sets a new standard for best industry privacy practices for the collection and analysis of data collected from today’s internet-connected televisions and other home devices. ... Today, the FTC has made clear that all smart TV makers should get people’s consent before collecting and sharing television viewing information and VIZIO now is leading the way."