Vizio Smart TV: So Smart It Will Tell You to Sue the Company

We’re living at a time when all our gadgets are becoming “smart,” even our TVs. A Vizio smart TV that was found three years ago to be spying on its users. After a class action lawsuit was filed, the company agreed to notify their customers on the smart TVs themselves of their rights to join the lawsuit.

The Problem with Vizio Smart TVs

Watchdog group ProPublica called Vizio out for spying on their customers in November 2015. This feature on the smart TVs recorded everything that was being watched, as well as when and where, to sell that information to advertisers. The advertisers could then take that information and use it to “find you on your phone and other devices” to hit you with ads that would apply to you specifically.

In February 2017 Vizio agreed to a $2.2 million settlement with the FTC with regards to the investigation. Despite this, a class action lawsuit was filed by the Girard Gibbs law firm. Vizio claimed innocence and that the recording of the data was anonymous and not attached to specific users.

Vizio asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, but a California federal judge allowed the legal process to continue two separate times in March and July.


Notice to Appear on Smart TVs

The company and the plaintiff agreed that a notice would be pushed to all smart TVs that were affected. It would alert users that the devices were spying on them and would inform them of their rights to join the class action lawsuit on September 12.

The Hollywood Reporter has stated there may be a delay with the appearance of the note on the TVs. Vizio has technical and legal problems that it needs to solve before pushing the note to the affected smart TVs.

The court papers obtained regarding this matter state, “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 standards.”


The new date, according to the lawyers for the plaintiffs will be sometime between September 12 an October 3.


This brings up an important question. Over the past few years we’ve heard about many companies that were secretly using customer data against their knowledge. Does this mean that they, too, could be left open to a class action lawsuit? Or is there something different with the Vizio case that leaves them open to it?

Hopefully, this will serve notice to other manufacturers and tech companies that it’s simply not okay to hijack user data and dole it out to the highest bidder. But at the same time we should always remember the true cost of a “smart” device. With anything that’s connected, it means there’s a chance of this happening.

Have you ever had concerns that a smart home product was using your data? Has the possibility of that happening prevented you from buying smart home products? Let us know what you think of this situation with the Vizio Smart TV in the comments section below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.