ORWELLIAN TELESCREEN MAKER Vizio is on the verge of agreeing to cut its own throat (more so) with an on-screen message to customers inviting them to join a class-action lawsuit.
In 2015, the company was rumbled as it gathered data on customers' viewing habits, based on demographics such as their age, race and marital status.
After settling with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the tune of $2.2m, it's now time to face its public.
The class action suit is currently in progress, with a date of 3 October set for preliminary settlement.
As part of the settlement, customers will receive a message telling them that there are people fighting for them and that they should get in touch to activate entitlement to any part of the settlement.
Originally set for late September, the October date is designed to allow testing of the onscreen message which will be delivered through the Vizio middleware. Both sides will need to be satisfied that it is clear in its wording and will be visible by anyone who turns on their TV. It's not clear if this will also allow the user to interactively register with the suit from their remote, which let's face it, would be ruddy hilarious if it happens. Not that we like schadenfreude or anything.
Other demographics collected include sex, size of household, level of education, whether they are tenant or owner and how much their home is worth. All hypothetically anonymised but nevertheless a huge breach of privacy and trust.
In an age where Chinese companies are under scrutiny over their privacy arrangements, this has not been Chintech's finest hour. Some have even claimed that the software constitutes wiretapping. At present, it's not clear exactly what Vizio is going to admit to, as it may well differ from what it told the FTC. μ
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