A report from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that came in yesterday, announces that the California based smart TV maker Vizio has settled to pay $2.2 million against its illegitimate TV data collection technique. Vizio was held responsible for installing software on its TV sets which collected data of its 11 million viewing customers without their consent, and the then selling those data to third parties.

In a step to settle its case with  FTC and the New Jersey Attorney General, apart from the financial charges, Vizio will also have to delete the data it collected before March 1, 2016 and will have to implement a comprehensive data privacy which will have to be assessed  twice a year, says the report. The statement also states that the commission voted 3-0 in favor of the ruling.

The ruling states that Vizio should:

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.

Vizio was acquired by the “Chinese Netflix” LeEco in July 2016, one year after its plan of getting listed on the stock-market,which never took place. In a revised S-1 filing, the company writes;

Furthermore, some individuals may be reluctant or unwilling to connect to the Internet through our Smart TVs because they have concerns regarding the risks associated with data privacy and security. If the wider public perceives data privacy or security concerns with respect to our Smart TVs, this could negatively impact the growth potential for the net sales of our Smart TVs and our Inscape data services.

Meanwhile, the company refused to answer questions regarding how many smart TVs have had its Inscape data services deactivated. However, the filing reports:

our focus on connectivity has driven our consumers to make an initial connection of their Smart TVs to the Internet at an average rate of … approximately 90 percent for the 12-month period ended September 30, 2015.

In 2015, ProPublica reported that the data collection feature of the TV is an in-built default application.

In the present era, data is a very precious commodity and stealing it without the consent of all the parties involved is a punishable offense. FTC has set a commendable example which will prevent other such companies from involving themselves in similar activities.

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