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Flagrant Vizio data abuses raise fresh Smart TV privacy concerns

As Brits we’ve often looked across the pond with green eyes at the Vizio TVs, often offering top features at better value than the biggest names.

However, it appears we may have gotten off lightly, after it emerged the firm may have tracked and sold customers’ viewing habits without permission.

Vizio has been levied with a $2.2 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission to settle a complaint about how it used consumer data.

Related: CES 2017 highlights

It was alleged the firm installed tracking software on 11 million smart TVs and turned the data into a “mountain of cash” by selling it on to advertisers.

Now the company is promising to halt unauthorized tracking and disclose to customers in order to gain their consent.

In a blog post on the FTC website (via Engadget), the regulator explained the complaint.

“On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content,” it read.

“What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.”

The penalty raises new questions about whether our viewing habits are safe with smart TV makers. Do you worry about what manufacturers are selling on to advertisers?

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