On October 4, 2018, a motion for preliminary approval was filed in In re: VIZIO, Inc., Consumer Privacy Litigation, No. 8:16-ml-02693-JLS (KESx) (C.D. Cal.). With this filing,VIZIO is nearing resolution of pending class-action proceedings regarding its past use of data collected from certain Smart TVs.
The $17 million settlement concerns VIZIO’s data practices prior to February 6, 2017 and impacts approximately 16 million VIZIO Smart TV users in the U.S. who purchased a VIZIO Smart TV and connected the TV to the Internet between February 1, 2014 and February 6, 2017. The motion includes commentary from an expert hired by the plaintiffs who audited VIZIO’s viewing data disclosure practices following the FTC Order (Feb 2017). The expert found VIZIO’s disclosures to be superior to those that prompted the litigation and superior to others in the Smart TV industry.
Two years ago, VIZIO worked closely with the FTC to establish clear guidelines for obtaining explicit consumer consent. As a result, in early 2017 VIZIO adopted clear, prominent and explicit viewing data disclosures that are now widely considered the most consumer-friendly disclosures in the television industry. VIZIO encourages other brands in the Smart TV industry to move towards adopting these transparent, industry-leading practices.
Most Smart TVs today have the capability to detect the content in which they display. While VIZIO enabled detection of content displayed on VIZIO Smart TVs and information unique to the unit including IP address, it never connected such information to an individual’s name, address or similar identifying information. Viewing data helps guide advertisers and programmers to develop content that is more geared towards consumers’ preferences and interests – a fact that plaintiffs in the class action proceeding have acknowledged.
VIZIO has now agreed to resolve claims relating to its pre-2017 data practices, with the goal of resolving all outstanding lawsuits. In addition to the cash settlement, VIZIO will also implement non-monetary relief, designed to be of further benefit to VIZIO consumers. This relief includes: (1) slightly revising its on-screen disclosures concerning its viewing data practices (primarily changing the on-screen buttons from “agree/settings” to “accept/decline”); (2) adding a disclosure concerning VIZIO’s viewing data practices in the Quick Start Guides provided in the TV packaging; and (3) deleting all viewing data collected prior to February 6, 2017. This non-monetary relief, including data deletion, is to occur after the court gives final approval to the settlement.