TRENTON, N.J. (CBS13/AP) — Television manufacturer Vizio and a subsidiary will pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that they surreptitiously 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.
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 legal documents, 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.
The FTC says the company had been tracking consumers on TVs starting in 2014, and the tracking software was added to older TVs.
Starting in 2014, Vizio made TVs that automatically tracked what consumers were watching and transmitted that data back to its servers. Vizio even retrofitted older models by installing its tracking software remotely. All of this, the FTC and AG allege, was done without clearly telling consumers or getting their consent.
Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and others. … According to the complaint, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers’ IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household.
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