Tester Fights to Hold Vizio Accountable, Strengthen Montanans’ Right to Privacy

As Technology Advances, Senator Pushes Federal Trade Commission to Protect Civil Liberties

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is fighting to strengthen Montanans’ right to privacy following a settlement that revealed the multi-national technology company Vizio spied on customers without their knowledge or consent.

In a letter to Acting Chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Maureen Ohlhausen, Tester called Vizio’s actions deceptive and reckless, highlighting their threat to Montanans’ civil liberties and asking the Commission to take steps to prevent similar incidents from ever happening again.

“I am appalled to see that for several years Vizio used sophisticated technology to spy on television viewing habits of millions of its customers,” Tester wrote. “This type of scheme is completely unacceptable and an affront to law-abiding Americans’ right to privacy. This type of deceptive behavior is reckless and threatens our civil liberties.”

The FTC and Vizio agreed on a settlement last month after the company, one of the largest TV brands in North America, was caught gathering data from their 11 million viewers without their consent or knowledge. Vizio profited from viewing data and provided third party companies with demographic information, such as age, sex, income, marital status, education level, and household value. Vizio agreed to pay a fine of $2.2 million according to the settlement.

Tester wrote that the $2.2 million settlement fails to hold Vizio accountable for violating the privacy of 11 million citizens, and that he is committed to ensuring other technology companies do not repeat Vizio’s actions.

“I stand ready to work with the FTC to ensure that the agency is well equipped to take on the new privacy challenges that we face in the digital era,” Tester added. “Privacy is a fundamental right that we must protect from eroding as technology continues to advance.”

Tester has led the charge to eliminate the most intrusive aspects of the PATRIOT Act, which were used to spy on law-abiding Americans without their consent, and he has opposed the confirmation of multiple members of President Trump’s cabinet due to their support for the PATRIOT Act’s bulk data collection provisions.

Tester also voted down an amendment that would have expanded the FBI’s authority to obtain information about American’s Internet activities without first obtaining a warrant.

Tester’s letter to FTC Acting Chair Ohlhausen is available HERE.