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Vizio Pays $2.2 Million Fine to Settle Smart TV Spying Charges

By Mary Ellen CallahanJulie Shepard and Mara Ludmer

Night-television-tv-theme-machinesVizio, one of the largest Smart TV companies, recently agreed to pay a $2.2 million fine and be subject to a permanent injunction to settle charges by Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General that Vizio tracked consumer television viewing on 11 million internet-connect TVs without consent in violation of consumer protection laws.  This is the first case where the FTC’s interpretation of “sensitive information” has been expanded to include consumer’s television viewing data.

According to the FTC’s proposed Complaint, Vizio’s affiliated smart TV manufacturer developed proprietary automated content recognition (“ACR”) software to detect content on internet- connected monitors and televisions.  Commencing in 2014, Vizio began selling ACR-equipped smart TVs with ACR enabled by default and remotely installed ACR tracking on previously-sold TVs.  Vizio allegedly captured “highly-specific, second-by-second information” as to what individuals watched, sent that information to Vizio’s servers and matched it to publicly-available content.  Vizio also allegedly collected viewing data from cable and broadband service providers, over the air broadcasts, set top boxes and external streaming devices.  Vizio was alleged to have collected IP addresses, MAC addresses, and other items.  

To read the full Jenner & Block client alert on this subject, please click here