In a mere 6 years, consumers have purchased more than 11 million internet-connected Vizio televisions. What the consumers didn’t know is that everything they did on that TV was being watched, tracked and sold. The Federal Trade Commission and New Jersey Attorney General have filed a lawsuit against the companies unlawful tracking practices and the sale of such information.
Beginning in 2014 Vizio TVs came preloaded with a tracker that monitored what was being viewed, that data was transmitted back to data servers and sold without permission. The company took it one step further and remotely installed the tracking bug onto older model internet-connected televisions.
Vizio found another massive revenue stream of selling its consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and other third party companies. According to the complaint, the technology brand included consumers’ IP address to data aggregates who then matched everything from the household age, sex, income, martial status, family size, education, and home ownership.
As most companies do, they reached a a very mild settlement. Vizio has agreed to stop unauthorized tracking, they will now disclose their TV viewing collection practices and gain consumer consent first. They’ve also agreed to pay a small sum of $2 million for it’s illegal tracking software that likely made the company hundreds of millions over the years.