Television maker VIZIO is paying $2.2 million in penalties to settle charges after the FTC and the New Jersey Attorney General’s office brought a complaint against the company for violating its customers’ privacy. The complaint against VIZIO stated that the company collected detailed information on millions of its customers TV viewing habits without their express consent, and that VIZIO facilitated something called “data appending,” which is when even more detailed information is added to existing customer profiles.
We have updated our much-visited Search Engine Privacy Tips in light of recent events surrounding online privacy. First, search engine encryption has become much more important for a number of reasons, which we discuss in the revised tips. Several search engines are now using encryption by default, including Google, DuckDuckGo and others. Additionally, WPF has been receiving reports from consumers about “fake” search engines containing viruses. Our new tipsheet has been refreshed to reflect these recent trends and issues.
Resource | case file — Amazon.com filed a lawsuit in April to fight the North Carolina Department of Revenue’s request for detailed information on Amazon.com customers. The North Carolina tax department requested Amazon.com to hand over “all information for all sales to customers with a North Carolina shipping address” between 2003 to 2010. In the decision, Seattle, Washington U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman wrote, “Citizens are entitled to receive information and ideas through books, films, and other expressive materials anonymously.” She also stated that “The fear of government tracking and censoring one\’s reading, listening, and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.” This is an important decision for privacy rights, and online privacy in particular.
Digital Signage Privacy Principles — The nation’s leading consumer and privacy groups released a set of baseline consumer privacy principles to be included in digital signage networks. The principles were released at the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, where World Privacy Forum executive director Pam Dixon spoke about the principles to a large group of digital signage industry professionals.
Internet privacy — The World Privacy Forum announced today that it would be filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the posting by AOL of a portion of its users’ search data on the Internet. While the data was not expressly identified by name, the search queries themselves included in some cases personally identifiable information such as individuals’ names, Social Security Numbers, and myriad other personal information. The World Privacy Forum urges consumers to take precautions when using search engines.