The Federal Trade Commission’s settlement with the soon-to-be Chinese owned Vizio over its egregious privacy violations of American consumers demonstrates this threat. The Irvine, California-based Vizio has sold over 11 million internet-connected “smart” TVs in the United States since 2010. Last year, the Chinese conglomerate LeEco purchased Vizio for $2 billion, though the deal still requires regulatory approval from China.
According to the FTC’s complaint, Vizio remotely installed software on its TVs to allow it to track its users’ viewing history—including DVDs and Cable and broadcast television. It created a massive database, which included each consumer’s I.P. address, Wi-Fi location, and personal information like income, education, and marital status. Vizio sold this data to third parties, who could use the IP and Wi-Fi information to track consumers’ behavior across other internet-connected devices.
The settlement requires Vizio to pay $2.2 million dollars in fines, delete all the improperly obtained data, and completely revamp its privacy policies.