Vizio Smart TV Is Watching You and Sharing Your Info with Advertisers

by Istvan Fekete on November 16, 2015

Do you recall the uproar among Bell customers when the service provider launched its Relevant Ads program? Since then Bell has terminated the program, which tracked its customers habits, but you know there is another “big brother” that’s watching you: Vizio’s Smart TV. You own one? Well, you may want to opt out right now.

As reported by Pro Publica, Vizio’s Smart TV tracks your viewing habits and shares them with advertisers, who can then find you on your smartphone and other mobile devices.

Vizio’s tracking program is called “Smart Interactivity” and is turned on by default (as was Bell’s Relevant Ads program) for the more than 10 million Smart TV units Vizio has sold. If you want to “escape”, you will need to opt out.

In a statement sent to Pro Publica, Vizio said: customers’ “non-personal identifiable information may be shared with select partners … to permit these companies to make, for example, better-informed decisions regarding content production, programming and advertising.”

What’s outrageous is that Vizio goes far beyond what others do in the emerging interactive television industry. Rivals Samsung and LG track users’ viewing habits only if they choose to turn the feature on. Oh, and by the way, they don’t appear to provide the info in a form that allows advertisers to reach users on other devices.

Vizio’s tracking program works by analysing snippets of the show you are watching: it determines the date, time, and channel; and whether you watched a program live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then associated with your IP address, which can easily be linked to individuals.

In a recently updated privacy policy, Vizio says it has begun providing data about customers’ viewing habits to companies that “may combine this information with other information about devices associated with that IP address.” What may raise a red flag is that Vizio does not promise to encrypt IP addresses before sharing them.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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