PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Your smart TV is not only giving you access to a world of entertainment and information, it may also be remembering everything you watch.
That’s what the Federal Trade Commission says Vizio was doing without properly telling its customers, or getting their position.
In an agreement with the FTC, Vizio has agreed to stop collecting the data which it has been selling to third parties who have been using it to track viewing habits and advertising performance.
According to the FTC, Vizio:
- Made smart TVs from May of 2014 to the present that automatically tracked what consumers were watching and transmitted the data to its servers.
- Collected data from Cable, Broadband, Set top boxes, Streaming Services, DVD players, and Over the Air Broadcast.
- Sold consumers viewing histories to advertisers and others.
- Information included sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education and home ownership.
It was all greenlighted for distribution in the menu of your TV, under the heading “Smart Interactivity,” which customers agreed to by skipping the fine print and hit the accept button.
The FTC also says Vizio did so with insufficient notice to consumers that they were being tracked.
Vizio has agreed to stop the tracking, and delete the data.
CNET’s TV expert David Katzmaier says Vizio isn’t the only smart TV collecting data.
“Pretty much all of them are capable of doing it and all do it to a certain extent. Samsung, LG, Sony, all these guys have these end user license agreements when you first connect the TV to the internet to get the smart features installed,” Katzmaier said.
In other words, in that fine print you skip over is the agreement to allow them to track your viewing habits.
The FTC’s Kevin Moriarty says consumers who have smart TVs “should look at your television settings, and if you don’t want your TV to be tracking you, you should turn it off.”
But he adds the information, while personal, does not include your name, and you might think twice about turning it off because it could be bringing you offers and benefits you might not otherwise receive. Also, your favorite show might be retained based on the information the TV trackers provide.
If you want information about how to disconnect the tracker on your TV, contact customer service for your brands and ask them to walk you through the menu changes.