While you were watching TV, the TV was watching you. Television manufacturer Vizio and a subsidiary will pay a measly $2.5 million to settle allegations that they secretly tracked consumers’ viewing habits and sold the information to marketing companies and data brokers.
The settlement announced Monday ends parallel investigations conducted by the state and the Federal Trade Commission into the use of data-collecting technology on Vizio’s smart TVs.
Acting FTC chairman Maureen Ohlhausen said in a statement that “Vizio deceptively omitted information about its data collection and sharing program. Evidence shows that consumers do not expect televisions to collect and share information about what they watch.”
The FTC will get $1.5 million and the state will receive $1 million. The state will suspend $300,000 in civil penalties included in its settlement amount if Vizio complies with the agreement.
According to legaldocuments, Irvine, California-based Vizio and a subsidiary manufactured smart TVs that captured second-by-second information about video displayed on the sets. The data was sold to marketing companies and data brokers to measure viewing habits, such as the effectiveness of ad campaigns.
Although Vizio did not individual consumers’ names or contact information to outsides parties, the information did include such information as people’s sex, age, income, education and other demographic data, according to the FTC.