A man from Indiana is suing the manufacturer of his smart TV set over claims that the television is ‘secretly spying’ on him and passing confidential information onto third parties.
Tent Strader has filed a 27-page lawsuit in Indianapolis where he accuses the Vizio smart television set as monitoring his viewing habits without his permission – collecting data illegally such as websites he has visited and products he has purchased online through the web-enabled TV.
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According to court documents the televisions collect personal information through their ‘Smart Interactivity’ software before passing it on to ‘advertisers and data brokers’.
It is claimed that the software, which is ‘activated by default’ has been installed on more than 10 million televisions sold in the United States over recent years.
‘The third parties that obtain the personally identifying data are then able to push targeted ads to electronic devices that share the same Internet network connection as a Vizio “smart” television’.
More than 100 people have joined the class action and are seeking in excess of $5,000,000 – excluding interest and costs.
Strader accuses Vizio of hiding details of the ‘tracking software’ installed on its televisions.
The company has generated approximately $3 billion in revenue during 2014.
The court documents claim the televisions contain ‘automatic content recognition’ (ACR) software.
‘Cognitive provides this secretly collected information to third-party advertisers and content providers, who, in turn, display targeted advertisements, based on this collected information, to consumers.’
The ACR software, according to the filing, can ‘secretly monitor and track, in real time, the viewing habits of its customers.’ It is able to identify a ‘customer’s age, profession and certain wealth indicators’.
‘The Vizio tracking software is also designed to scan a consumer’s home WiFi networks to secretly collect information that is then utilized to help determine the specific person whose viewing activity has been collected.’
The court documents claim the tracking software enables Vizio to sell the secret information to advertisers, who are then able to target specific devices on the owner’s WiFi network.
Strader’s case accuses Vizio of ‘secretly spying on its customers for profit’.
The case alleges that Vizio ‘conceals the tracking software and the method for disabling it,’ by making it difficult to switch off.
It is claimed that if Strader and members of the class action were aware of the tracking software, they would not have purchased the television.
According to the court documents: ‘All Smart TVs that contained Tracking Software are defective and unfit for their ordinary purposes because rather than performing as impliedly represented, these devices instead intercept, monitor, track, and transmit personal viewing histories and personally identifiable information to third parties… without consent.’
A spokeswoman for the company said: ‘Vizio believes the lawsuits are factually wrong, based on inaccurate speculation, and legally without any merit. Vizio will aggressively defend against this matter.’