Vizio recorded information about its customers' viewing habits without their consent.
(CCM) — Vizio, one of the world's largest makers of smart TVs, is to pay out $2.2 million to settle charges that its televisions illegally used software that monitored what owners watched without their consent, according to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announcement. From early 2014 more than 11 million internet-connected Vizio TVs ran automated content recognition (ACR) software which collected unique data from each household, including second-by-second viewing information, the household's IP address, nearby access points, zip code, and other information, according to the FTC. This information was then shared with third-party companies.
As part of the settlement, Vizio will now have to delete most of the data it has collected and put in place a privacy program that checks its partners' privacy practices. Vizio will also have to get permission from TV owners before using ACR software in future, and "prominently disclose its data collection and sharing practices." The FTC recommends that owners of Vizio TVs go to the settings menu and look for information about ACR. This is not the first time that smart TVs have raised privacy concerns: in 2015 the BBC reported that Samsung had warned customers about discussing personal information in front of its smart TVs if they used the "voice activation" feature, which listens to speech and may share what is heard with Samsung or third parties.
Image: © Vizio.