Own one of these smart TVs? FTC says they might be watching you - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Own one of these smart TVs? FTC says they might be watching you

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Is your smart TV watching you? The FTC says TV manufacturer VIZIO has been collecting its customers' data without them knowing it.

A lawsuit against the company says VIZIO used its smart TVs to automatically track what customers were watching and send that data back to its servers. That information, along with customers’ IP addresses, was then sold to advertisers.

The complaint states this information helped third parties learn consumers’ household size, age, income, marital status, education and home ownership.

"So realistically they could have given advertisers the ability to place something on your browser based on something that you’re watching on your television," said Ken Colburn with Data Doctors.

To him, this comes as no big surprise.

"If it connects to the Internet, it’s probably capturing information about your usage," Colburn said. "I refer to it as a sign of the times."

VIZIO has sold 11 million of these Internet-connected TVs since 2010. TVs built since 2014 automatically came with the software installed. Older models had the technology installed remotely.

Customers were not given the necessary heads-up to know this was going on, according to the lawsuit.

"I would be very upset because I would expect that information to be mine and private," said consumer Rod Reed.

The FTC sued. VIZIO has agreed to stop unauthorized tracking, delete most of the data it already has, pay a $2.2 million penalty, disclose its practices and get express consent going forward.

"That’s really, I think, what the Federal Trade Commission is trying to get across is, it’s not that you can’t do this as a technology company but you need to be clear and straight up with your customers, and give them the option to say, ‘No I don’t want to be part of this,’” Colburn said.  

But some say their trust is already gone.

"No, I’m sorry, I’m not going to buy any of your products, in fact I'll figure out how to get rid of the one I got," Reed said.  

In its settlement, VIZIO says it took no "sensitive information" like Social Security numbers, information about children, or precise locations. 

Here's the number to call to get VIZIO to delete the information: 877-698-4946

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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