Vizio Wants to Give You $$$

Has this ever happened to you? You are surfing on your laptop and suddenly a scary screen appears, demanding ransomware payable with your credit card info, and 3 bottles of vodka. The same thing happened to me, except I was watching TV and instead of demanding that I send money, a pop-up on the TV screen offered to send money to me.

A couple of Black Fridays ago, I bought two Vizio TVs. Like everyone else, I quickly ran through their onscreen menus, connected them to the internet, and started using them. What I found out later is that Vizio has been harvesting my viewing information and peddling it. I found that out because a class-action lawsuit had been filed. And now, that lawsuit has been settled.

As part of the settlement, Vizio must show contrition in the form of cash money. If you own a Vizio TV, you too could be part of this cash grab. In particular, if you purchased a Vizio smart TV that was connected to the internet between February 1, 2014 and February 6, 2017, you could be eligible to receive cash.

How much cash? The amount will be largely determined by how many people file a valid claim. The settlement required that Vizio set aside $17 million for these payments. Is there a catch? Of course there is! Plaintiffs are paid from the $17 million, but only after deductions for attorney's fees, litigation costs, etc. At the end of the day, estimated monetary compensation is between $13 and $31 per television. So, apparently your privacy was worth about 20 bucks.

To read the finer print, and file a claim, go to the Vizio TV Settlement website. Don't delay - the deadline for filing is April 29, 2019. You might have received an email notifying you of the settlement, or your TV might have flashed a message screen at you (I got both) but either way, this is legit.

The details of the case are relatively complex, but the summary is this: Vizio was accused of violating consumer-protection privacy laws by collecting information about what was being displayed on its TVs, and selling that information to advertisers. Further, the lawsuit alleges that Vizio did this without the full consent or knowledge of its customers. Vizio denies these allegations.

Has this lawsuit persuaded Vizio to stop collecting viewer information? Heck no! In fact, this is an important profit center for many TV manufacturers. But, after this lawsuit was filed, Vizio did change how it discloses its practices to its customers. It now provides a notice that it intends to collect data from you, and affirmatively asks for your consent. Also, Vizio will delete all the information it harvested during the class-action period.

Ironically, when you log onto the Settlement web site, this notice appears: "Our site uses cookies and other tracking technologies to tailor your experience and understand how you and other visitors use our site. For more information on how we use your personal data, please read our Privacy Policy." If only Vizio had been as forthcoming.

drny's picture

Thanks for the laugh Ken. I read Orwell's 1984 in 1975 (High School Sophomore). Big Brother was a fictitious projection of State Fascism in that Novel.
The thought was quite scary back when I was fifteen.
Today, Big Brother is everyone and their mother. I am indeed being monitored while Online, on the phone, watching TV, walking about (security cameras and smart phones everywhere), and yes even while sitting on the can (who reads a hard copy newspaper or a magazine anymore. You are on your phone or tablet).
The thought of being "watched" by everyone is no longer scary to me, but rather damn funny. Privacy, that was a luxury of my dad and grandfather's generations.
The money grabbers (yes, the Lawyers) are constantly watching those who watch us, but of course they are on the lookout for our rights and security. God bless them.

larrymartin's picture

This settlement is a stark reminder of the importance of consumer privacy and transparency in data collection practices. It is concerning that such practices were carried out without full consent or knowledge but hopefully this sets a precedent for better practices in the future.
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