The Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against television manufacturer, Vizio, for illegally gathering customer data. The FTC won and now Vizio has to pay $2.2 million.

The FTC claimed that Vizio automatically tracked what people were watching when they entered the television-making industry in 2014. Vizio also retrofitted older televisions through remote software updates. Customer data was gathered from millions of televisions without anyone’s consent.

Here’s how the FTC says Vizio spied on their customers:

On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie and commercial content. What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data point each day from millions of TVs.

The FTC also goes on to say…

According to the compliant, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers’ IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household. Vizio’s contracts with third parties prohibited the re-identification of consumers and household by name, but allowed a host of other personal details – for example, sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership. And Vizio permitted these companies to track and target its consumers across devices.

Vizio released a statement saying “it never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information.”

In addition the the $2.2 million settlement, Vizio is also ordered to stop tracking their devices and delete most of the data collected before March 1, 2016. The company is also requires to have consent from consumers before collection their personal data.


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