After Spying On You, Your Vizio TV Will Ask You to Sue

We may not have colonies on Mars and faster-than-light travel yet, but if you have a Vizio TV, you will get a taste of a bizarre future where gadgets turn against their makers after betraying their owners.

Soon, a pop-up informing you that your TV has been spying on you will prompt you to sue its own manufacturer.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

All this gadget drama started on November 2015, when journalistic watchdog ProPublica exposed Vizio for illegally using its popular smart TVs to spy on its customers. The secret “feature” recorded what, when, and where its TV users were watching in order to sell their viewing habits data to advertisers. Then, advertisers could use that data to “find you on your phone and other devices” and target your with advertisement tailored to those habits. Pretty sleazy.

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The company argued that it was innocent and that all data recording was anonymous, not specific to each user, and asked the class action lawsuit to be dismissed. But a California federal judge didn’t buy its arguments two times — in March and July, allowing the legal process to continue.

This was despite the fact that, in February 2017, the company came to a very friendly $2.2 million settlement with the FTC on this investigation.

As part of the legal process against the company, the plaintiffs — lead by the law firm Girard Gibbs — and defendant Vizio agreed to push a notice to all affected smart TVs alerting consumers of what happened and what are their rights to join the class action lawsuit on September 12.

But now there may be a delay: according to The Hollywood Reporter, there are some technical and legal problems that Vizio has to solve before sending the note. This is what the court papers obtained by the publication reportedly say:

“The Parties are developing a class notice program with direct notification to the class through VIZIO Smart TV displays, which requires testing to make sure any TV notice can be properly displayed and functions as intended. The additional time requested will allow the parties to confirm that the notice program proposed in the motion for preliminary approval is workable and satisfies applicable legal standards."

The new target date, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers, is sometime between September 12 and October 3. Now more than ever, if you are a Vizio Smart TV owner, stay tuned.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.