VIZIO to Pay $2.2M to Settle
FTC Privacy Charges
February 7, 2017
has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges by the Federal
Trade Commission and the Office of the New Jersey Attorney
General that it installed software on its TVs to collect viewing
data on 11 million consumer TVs without consumers’ knowledge or
The stipulated federal court order requires VIZIO to prominently
disclose and obtain affirmative express consent for its data
collection and sharing practices, and prohibits
misrepresentations about the privacy, security, or
confidentiality of consumer information they collect. It also
requires the company to delete data collected before March 1,
2016, and to implement a comprehensive data privacy program and
biennial assessments of that program.
According to the agencies’ complaint, starting in February 2014,
VIZIO, Inc. and an affiliated company have manufactured VIZIO
smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video
displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable,
broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and
In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic
information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income,
marital status, household size, education level, home ownership,
and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this
information to third parties, who used it for various purposes,
including targeting advertising to consumers across devices,
according to the complaint.
to the complaint, VIZIO touted its “Smart Interactivity” feature
that “enables program offers and suggestions” but failed to
inform consumers that the settings also enabled the collection
of consumers’ viewing data. The complaint alleges that VIZIO’s
data tracking—which occurred without viewers’ informed
consent—was unfair and deceptive, in violation of the FTC Act
and New Jersey consumer protection laws.
The $2.2 million payment by VIZIO includes a payment of $1.5
million to the FTC and $1 million to the New Jersey Division of
Consumer Affairs, with $300,000 of that amount suspended.
The Commission vote approving the complaint and proposed order
was 3-0, with Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen issuing a
concurring statement. The FTC filed the complaint and order in
the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.