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Vizio has agreed to pay $2.2 million in an FTC lawsuit alleging that the TV maker tracked customers’ viewing habits without their permission. While Vizio hasn’t admitted fault as terms of the settlement, it will have to delete customer data it gathered, and request permission from users before monitoring their habits in the future.
According to the lawsuit, software in 11 million Vizio smart TVs monitored “highly-specific, second-by-second information about television viewing” in households. The company then worked with another organization to gather demographic data for customers, including their age, sex, income, and marital status. Vizio then sold that data to third parties, including advertisers. (Your TV habits can actually reveal a surprising amount about you—from your personality traits to your political leanings—and that information could be exceedingly valuable for targeted advertising.)
Now, if it wants to tracker user viewing habits, Vizio will have to first get explicit consent from customers, similarly to the way your phone and apps must ask permission before tracking your usage. The company will also have to delete most of the data it’s collected on TV owners using these techniques prior to March 1, 2016. The FTC originally filed this complaint in New Jersey in February 2014.
H/T the Verge
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.