Vizio Fined US$2.2 million by FTC


LCD TV vendor Vizio was accused of installing software on its TVs to collect viewing data on eleven million consumer TVs without consumers’ knowledge or consent. In settlement, Vizio has agreed to pay US$2.2 million to settle the charges by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General.

Starting in February 2014, Vizio and an affiliated company that manufactured Vizio smart TVs, installed the illegal software on its TVs. The software captured second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. In addition, Vizio also remotely installed monitoring software on previously-sold TVs that did not originally have the software installed at the time of purchase.

According to the FTC, Vizio then facilitated appending demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, with the combined information being sold to third parties, who used it for purposes including targeting advertising to consumers across various devices.

Vizio released a statement saying it was pleased to reach a resolution with the FTC and to reiterate that the monitoring software never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information. The company added that prior to the resolution it had addressed the concerns by updating online and onscreen disclosures.

Vizio was acquired by China-based LeEco in July 2016 for US$2 billion.

Digitimes reported that Foxconn is a shareholder of Vizio with an 8% stake in the company.