Vizio TV maker has admitted that it will pay $2.2m towards the settlement of the accusations that the tech company tracked its subscribers viewing habits, a practice that breaks the law.
As alleged by the US Federal Trade Commission, the company used its smart TV technology to gather data on users’ screen display and then remitted this to its servers, reports Arstechnica.
This data was then sold to interested third parties, violating subscribers’ privacy.
Vizio defended itself saying that the data was not collected on an individual basis.
The firm wrote that it “never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise.”
It further explained that the government allegations only involve the company using viewing data to come up with summary reports on its audiences’ viewing or behaviors.
According to FTC, Vizio began collecting data in February 2014 and in the process reached close to 11 million TVs.
Each household that has a Vizio smart TV was targeted in the collection of unique data. That did not only comprise of second-by-second viewing information but also the home’s IP address, zip code, nearby access points and additional vital information.
“They also shared that information with other companies,” wrote FTC in its blog explanation.
It added that with the settlement, Vizio will no longer collect unauthorized data and that smart TV makers get to learn on the importance of seeking for consent before “collecting and sharing television viewing information.”
In attempts to clear its name and maintain its customers, Vizio committed to informing its customers the storage and collection of data apart from getting first hand clear and firmer consent. The company will also delete all the collected data from its servers.
The recent surge in smart TV technology has not only been praised for the brilliant innovation but also led to calls for sterner privacy rules. The main area of concern has been on the video calling and on-demand viewing capability. In 2015, Samsung was accused for having been transmitting potentially sensitive voice data without the knowledge of the user.