“Smart” television manufacturer VIZIO, Inc. has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and New Jersey Attorney General arising from VIZIO’s alleged collection and use of detailed viewing history on 11 million of its smart TVs without consumers’ knowledge or consent. The settlement underscores the importance of clearly communicating data collection and use practices, and obtaining affirmative consent when such collection and use would not have been reasonably anticipated by a consumer.
The complaint alleges that since 2014 VIZIO’s smart TVs had been transmitting certain pixel information via the TV’s internet connection. When this information was compared with a database of television and movie content, VIZIO was able to assemble a consumer’s second-by-second viewing history. Using the television’s IP address, VIZIO used a data aggregator to tie this viewing history to a consumer’s demographic information, including sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, home ownership, and household value. Read more.