Vizio has paid a $2.2 million settlement for the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) complaint at which they monitored customers trends and habits through an image recognition built-in spy device that read pixel data to the database of film, television, advertising and other smart content. Not only did Vizio monitor this information, but they then matched customer data with IP addresses and sold it to other businesses and organizations. Now, because this was done without customer consent, it will play a more significant role in how manufacturers are collecting customer information in the future. This appears to be where the FTC chooses to regulate all companies with standardizing the future language for customers who may choose to purchase these newer devices.
This brings to light Lenovo’s 2014 Superfish security vulnerability as the pre-installed software designed to help customer’s actually gave attackers access to confidential information like banking transactions, passwords, emails and instant messages. Lenovo announced publicly that they messed up badly, and worked with McAfee and Microsoft to help quarantine and remove the Superfish software from each customer’s affected devices. Although official numbers were never confirmed, Lenovo sold over 16 million Windows computers in Q4 of 2014, many of which had Superfish pre-installed between September 2014 and January 2015.
What does this mean and why does this matter? In our connected world it is extremely important that media users understand how to navigate and control the privacy settings on your devices. While organizations like the FTC are put into place to police situations like what happened with Vizio, the user still needs to make sure they are proactive about protecting themselves. This means regularly clearing out browsing history on the internet. This is very easy. Depending on your browser just head up to settings (the little gear icon in most browsers) and check the box that says “clear browsing history”. You will also want to clear your cache and cookies from time to time.