These Smart TVs Spied on Users, Causing Legal Backlash (Watch)

TVs spying on people? This might sound like something more suited for a dystopian novel than real life. But if you owned a Vizio Smart TV anytime after February 2014, it could have been your reality.

A complaint filed Monday by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said that the company used software in its TVs to spy on users’ viewing habits without their permission. It then sold that data to third parties.

Lots of companies collect data about consumers, including basic account information and user habits. But companies need to make sure that they’re up front about what data they’re collecting and what it’s being used for. Otherwise, a public opinion or even legal backlash could very well be in store.

For its part, Vizio claims that it didn’t pair any viewing data with personally identifiable information about its users. But it still plans to settle with the FTC, agreeing to pay $1.5 million and delete all data collected before March 2016.

It’s Important to Be Transparent About Customer Data Use

In today’s high tech business world, collecting consumer data can be beneficial or even necessary to create a personalized user experience. But there’s a big difference between collecting data and using it in ways that customers agreed to and spying on them without their permission. Vizio walked the other side of that line and is now going to have to pay the price.

TV Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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