The on-going consumer privacy class action lawsuit against TV maker Vizio is a nearing a $17 million settlement that could earn disgruntled customers a modest payout.

The deal is still subject to final approval from the court, but if upheld it will be the second settlement the company has agreed to relating to claims that parts of its smart TV software tracks user viewing patterns for possible resale to third parties and that customers were not properly informed of this prior to purchasing the sets.

The company paid $2.2 million to the Federal Trade Commission in 2017 to settle a related case. As part of that action, Vizio promised it would clearly seek permission from users going forward before tracking viewing habits and demographic data for sale to advertisers.

Vizio said it is now making a motion to resolve claims relating to pre-2017 data practices.

In a statement, the motion to settle 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),” Vizio’s statement said. “The expert found Vizio’s disclosures to be superior to those that prompted the litigation and superior to others in the Smart TV industry.”

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Vizio also said the $17 million settlement includes notification to the class via a Vizio smart TV push alert among other forms of communication.

Vizio said “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.”

In addition to cash, Vizio said it will also implement non-monetary relief including:

Slightly revising its on-screen disclosures concerning its viewing data practices (primarily changing the on-screen buttons from “agree/settings” to “accept/decline”);

Adding a disclosure concerning Vizio’s viewing data practices in the Quick Start Guides provided in the TV packaging;

Deleting all viewing data collected prior to Feb. 6, 2017. This non-monetary relief, includes data deletion, is to occur after the court gives final approval to the settlement.

A report by the Hollywood Reporter stated that the pending settlement would award each of named plaintiffs $5,000 and the rest of the settlement total would be disbursed to others who made a settlement claim. According to the report: “assuming a 2 percent to 5 percent claims rate, as the attorneys in the case do, the average compensation would amount to between $13 to $31.”


By Greg Tarr


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