On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission said television manufacturer VIZIO has agreed to pay $2.2 million in settlement charges by the FTC and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General for installing software on 11 million consumer TVs that collected viewing data without consumers’ knowledge or consent. The data collected, which included customers’ locations, demographics, and viewing habits, was allegedly sold by VIZIO.
According to the complaint, starting around February 2014, VIZIO manufactured TVs that captured second-by-second data about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. The FTC said the information was sold to third parties who used the information for various purposes including targeted advertising.
The FTC said that VIZIO touted its “Smart Interactivity” feature that “enables program offers and suggestions,” but never informed consumers that the settings also allowed for the collection of their viewing data. The practice isn’t uncommon, but consumers typically—albeit sometimes deceptively—have opted into these types of programs.