TV Maker Tracked Viewers’ Moves 24/7

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Vizio, a popular smart TV manufacturer, is facing privacy invasion charges after the company was caught tracking viewer habits without consent.

The company is facing $2.2 million in privacy invasion charges. 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint on Monday when it discovered all internet-connected TVs from Vizio contained automated content recognition (ARC) software.

Vizio used the software to collect every second of data that was being displayed on viewers’ TVs. Vizio then sold that data to companies who wanted to use it to measure audiences and analyze data.

“For all of these uses, Defendants provide highly specific, second-by-second information about television viewing,” FTC lawyers wrote following the discovery. “Each line of a report provides viewing information about a single television. In a securities filing, Vizio states that its data analytics program, for example, ‘provides highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy, which can be used to generate intelligent insights for advertisers and media content providers.'”


Vizio officials also released a statement via email stating, “The ACR program never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise. Instead, as the Complaint notes, the practices challenged by the government related only to the use of viewing data in the ‘aggregate’ to create summary reports measuring viewing audiences or behaviors.”

It is estimated Vizio had the ARC software installed on devices from 2014 to present.

This is not the first time a TV manufacturer has been accused of collecting sensitive data. According to Ars Technica, LG was also accused of collecting data from files on USB drives, names of files shared on home and office networks, and shows being watched on personal TVs.

$1.5 million of the Vizio settlement will go to the FTC and $700,000 to the New Jersey Division of Consumer affairs.

H/T: Ars Technica

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