VIZIO TV Settles Charges Of Tracking Viewers’ Data

In last month’s case of FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION et al v. VIZIO, INC. et al, the FTC obtained a stipulated (agreed) settlement with a permanent injunction against, and payment of over $2 million from, Vizio, which is one of the largest television manufacturers in the world.

The FTC alleged Vizio acquired from the video displayed on monitors and TV’s from viewers’ cable, broadband, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, streaming devices, etc. very specific demographic information, and  second-by-second users’ viewing habits along with the viewers’ age, sex, marital status, size and income of the household, level of education, whether viewer’s owned their home and its value.  In addition, the FTC asserted Vizio sold the data to others, who used it for target advertising to consumers using other devices.

On February 6, 2017, a Stipulated Order for a Permanent Injunction and Monetary Judgment was filed with the United States District Court. Although Vizio denied any liability,  they were charged with participating in deceptive, unfair and unconscionable practices, misrepresentations, false promises, and omitting material facts in collecting and sharing viewers’ data while using the Smart Interactivity feature in over 10 million Vizio TV’s they sold. These are so called “smart” televisions and monitors that can connect to the internet.

Vizio agreed to disclose and obtain consent for the above data collection and sharing practices; and is prohibited from making false statements and misrepresenting the privacy, security &/or confidentiality of the viewers’ information they collect.

It is noteworthy, there presently is a consumer  Class Action lawsuit filed and pending against Vizio involving this subject matter.

Sadly, our respective rights to privacy and individual expectations of being free from daily intrusion from others, whether government, business, and/or others, are being compromised as we seek to enjoy the continuing benefits of the growing number and expanding scope of our electronic devices.

With this link, consumer information published by the FTC, one can obtain varied educational and enlightening topics and subject matter.

Supreme Court will Decide if Businesses can Claim Exemption to Contraceptive Law

The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to decide whether or not businesses can be forced to provide coverage for birth control, even if the owners disagree from a religious standpoint.

It certainly is understandable why an individual who is guaranteed rights per the U.S. Constitution would complain if those rights were lost or otherwise negatively impacted simply because he/she operates a business.

There are equities that favor enterprise since this is the way our country was built, along with the basic need for nearly everyone and certainly part of the American dream to do the best we can; the opportunity to employ others and grow a business to provide services &/or products greater numbers, and the simultaneous benefit to all of society in the resultant increased taxes received by the federal and state government so they are able to promote the general welfare. Nonetheless, the Obama administration through its lawyers contend a business does not have any religious freedoms and should be distinguished from hospitals and schools who claim they should not be bound by Obamacare that requires they cover contraceptives.


Female inmates sterilized without approval

The Center for Investigative Reporting has found that almost 150 women were sterilized by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation between 2006 and 2010 without state approval. Former inmates and prison staff both say that patients were coerced into being sterilized, and those who were targeted were often pregnant, and were those deemed likely to return to prison.

The tubal ligation procedure for prisoners has required approval from top medical officers on a case-by-case basis since 1994. No requests have come before the health committee, yet at least 60 were performed at Valley State Prison for Women, and many were performed at California Institution for Women.

It is disgusting to treat human beings in this way. These women’s bodies are their own, and have the right to decide whether or not they should be able to bear children. A licensed professional should not be able to manipulate and coerce people in this way. It is against the code of ethics and against human decency.

Some proponents will argue that society has a vested interest in the welfare of the children of those who lack good judgment. All taxpayers not only pay a huge sum of money to incarcerate criminal offenders, but for their medical conditions and/or diseases. Some pundits ask why we spend more money for each staff to operate our prisons than we pay teachers.
As long as we debate the pros and cons of this and all other important  topics of particular interest, we will eventually reach a consensus if not a reasonable and proper solution.

Peugh vs. United States

On June 10, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of PEUGH vs. UNITED STATES, Case # 12-62, in a 5-4 opinion, ruled the Ex Post Facto Clause of the U.S Constitution was violated when the newer 2009 version of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines was applied because it provides (an increased risk of) a much greater punishment when the defendant was sentenced, rather than using the 1988 guidelines that were promulgated prior to the time he was alleged to have committed the crimes in question. The defendant was convicted of five counts of bank fraud relating to criminal acts in 1999 and 2000 and, therefore, the range of sentences was 30 to 37 months in prison under the 1998 guidelines.

Notwithstanding the Constitution forbids the passage of ex post facto laws and after characterizing the case with far more severe consequences under the 2009 Guidelines that set forth a range of 70 to 87 months, the defendant received a sentence of 70 months in prison. The Supreme Court reversed the Court Of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that previously affirmed the Federal District Court.

It is an elementary principle of law and integral to due process that a defendant should be prosecuted based upon the law at the time he is alleged to be in violation.

Read more here.


Missouri v. McNeely

“On September 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court in the case of Missouri v. McNeely, (Case No. 11-1425) granted a Writ of Certiorari and will likely decide early next year in their scheduled 2012-2013 docket whether a law enforcement officer must first get a warrant before taking a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver who has not previously given consent.

The underlying trial court ruled the warrantless blood sample violated the defendant’s Constitutional right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. The State appealed and the decision was reversed. The case then proceeded to the Supreme Court of Missouri where the State continued its argument of the “exigent circumstances exception” to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution warrant requirement, on the grounds that alcohol quickly dissipates in the bloodstream while police must wait for a warrant. The Missouri Supreme Court rejected this contention and supported the trial court’s holding.

The American Civil Liberties represented the driver who was charged with a DUI. Among other things, the ACLU noted there are 27 states that ban nonconsensual blood samples from being taken without a warrant. However, California is not included in any such ban per the case of Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966), which not only addressed the Fourth Amendment, but also ruled the withdrawal of blood is not a violation of one’s privileged against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.”


Perry v. New Hampshire

In the case of PERRY v. NEW HAMPSHIRE, the U.S. Supreme Court on January 11, 2012 (Case #10-8974, affirmed the Decision of the New Hampshire State Supreme Court, holding eyewitness identification that was not procured by unnecessarily suggestive circumstances by law enforcement is not a violation of Due Process and, therefore, cannot be held inadmissible in court. In summary, the U.S. Supreme Court held a preliminary judicial determination to assess the reliability of an out-of-court eyewitness identification was not required before admitting such evidence at trial. The Court held:

“The Constitution protects a defendant against a conviction based upon evidence of questionable reliability, not by prohibiting introduction of the evidence, but by affording the defendant means to persuade the jury that the evidence should be discounted as unworthy of credit. Only when evidence “is so extremely unfair that its admission violates fundamental conceptions of justice,” Dowling v. United States, 493 U. S. 342, 352 (internal quotation marks omitted), does the Due Process Clause preclude its admission. Contending that the Due Process Clause is implicated here, Perry relies on a series of decisions involving police-arranged identification procedures. See Stovall v. Denno, 388 U. S. 293; Simmons v. United States, 390 U. S. 377; Foster v. California, 394 U. S. 440; Neil v. Biggers, 409 U. S. 188; and Manson v. Brathwaite, 432 U. S. 98. These cases detail the approach appropriately used to determine whether due process requires suppression of an eyewitness identification tainted by police arrangement. First, due process concerns arise only when law enforcement officers use an identification procedure that is both suggestive and unnecessary. Id., at 107, 109; Biggers, 409 U. S., at 198. Even when the police use such a procedure, however, suppression of the resulting identification is not the inevitable consequence. Brathwaite, 432 U. S., at 112-113; Biggers, 409 U. S., at 198-199. Instead, due process requires courts to assess, on a case-by-case basis, whether improper police conduct created a “substantial likelihood of misidentification.” Id., at 201. Reliability of the eye witness identification is the linchpin” of that evaluation. Brathwaite, 432 U. S., at 114. Where the “indicators of a witness” ability to make an accurate identification” are “outweighed by the corrupting effect” of law enforcement suggestion, the identification should be suppressed. Id., at 114, 116. Otherwise, the identification, assuming no other barrier to its admission, should be submitted to the jury. Pp. 6-10. “

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