Top 4 Recent Technology-related Consumer Data Collection Scandals

Electronics manufacturers and online service providers have a habit of collecting consumer data without wanting their users about this exposure. In fact, quite a few companies have been found guilty of this malicious behavior over the past few months, which does not bode well at all. No company should (inadvertently) collect user data and not be upfront about it, that much is certain.

4. We-Vibe

The world received quite a nasty surprise when they learned a Canadian adult toy manufacturer was secretly collecting consumer data. The whole concept of an adult toy being capable of gathering information and send it back to the company is very disturbing, to say the least. We-Vibe tracked the intimate habits of its customers through the mobile companion app. Thankfully, this issue came to light before major damage was done.

Every consumer affected by the We-Vibe scandal received a US$199 compensation. Moreover, the users who controlled the app through a smartphone received up to US$10,000 each. Even though We-Vibe continues to deny any wrongdoing, nearly all of the collected data had to be destroyed in the process. Bluetooth-enabled adult toys are always a risk when it comes to ‘personal” privacy, to say the least.

3. Bose

A few days ago, a major news story broke regarding Bose. The audio company is apparently collecting user information through their wireless headphones’ companion application. Consumers are at risk of having listening habits exposed and sold to third-party advertisers. An official complaint has been filed against the company, and it is likely this court case will take some time to settle. So far, Bose spokespeople claim these comments are unfounded and inflammatory.

2. AdUps

There are quite a few low-budget Android phones on the market. BLUE is a company most people have come to know due to their powerful hardware at an affordable price. Unfortunately, the Blue R1 HD came with malicious backdoor software going by the name of AdUps. This app is specifically designed to give Chinese phone manufacturers are carriers a way to track consumer behavior for advertising purposes.

A further investigation into the AdUps company revealed their app is installed on over 700 million consumer devices. Not just smartphones, but also tablets and in-car entertainment systems may have this backdoor installed. Although the data never ended up in the hands of the Chinese government, this goes to show mobile phone bloatware is a very serious issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

1. Vizio

Most US consumers will be all too familiar with Vizio, a brand known for their more than affordable consumer-grade televisions. Earlier this year, the company was forced to settle with the FTC over its consumer data collection practices. Vizio paid US$2.2m in fines. The company’s Smart Interactivity feature started tracking consumer data back in 2014 in a second-by-second manner. Unfortunately, the information also includes IP addresses and the opportunity to track information across devices.

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