Man Sues Vizio For ‘Snitch’ TV

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana man is suing TV manufacturer Vizio for collecting data about his viewing habits and selling it to third parties.

He also contends that people did not consent to and or know about Vizio’s practices, which are facing several legal challenges in other states.

The “defendant’s smart televisions collect personally identifying information … through its Smart Interactivity software, and then disclose this private information to third parties, such as advertisers or data brokers,” according to the class-action lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court here.

“What people don’t understand is in this era … is who has access to your information and what they know about you,” said lawyer Lynn Toops at Cohen & Malad, whose firm is representing Trent Strader of Indianapolis. “Consumers need to understand that if they connect this TV to Internet, Vizio is collecting information and sending it to advertisers.

Vizio, based in Irvine, Calif., did not return a request for comment. The private company, founded in 2002 and now ranked 142 on Forbes magazine’s list of largest private companies across the USA, is best known for making inexpensive plasma and LCD TVs and had $3.14 billion in sales in 2014.

In July, the company announced plans to raise up to $172.5 million in an initial public offering and trade under the ticker symbol VZIO but has not begun to sell its shares yet.

Strader also did not return a call seeking comment.

This case against Vizio most likely will be bundled with others and heard in one central court. Toops said she will seek the maximum financial penalty against Vizio allowed under the law on behalf of Strader.

“It needs to be absolutely clear what’s happening,” she said. “That way, the consumer can make the choice to buy the product or not. And there should be an option to turn it off or understand that they can’t.”

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