Vizio made news last April when it pushed out a firmware update that turned on all its' sets spyware features out of the box. Since then, it's only gotten worse.
A Pro Publica investigation found that Vizio has comprehensively won the race to the bottom, turning on more invasive features and offering fewer privacy promises than competitors like Samsung and LG.
Vizio sets track your viewing habits in fine-grained detail, and share that information, along with information that can be used to personally identify you, with a variety of third party data-brokers who can then link this to your online activities. Vizio has a hot-ticket item: US privacy statutes prohibit cable operators and streaming services from selling this information, but Vizio says these privacy laws don't apply to the company that supplies your TV itself.
The company is using this to its advantage as it readies its IPO, whose prospectus touts the company's ability to track "highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy" as a reason to be optimistic about its future earnings.
Vizio’s actions appear to go beyond what others are doing in the emerging interactive television industry. Vizio rivals Samsung and LG Electronics only track users’ viewing habits if customers choose to turn the feature on. And unlike Vizio, they don’t appear to provide the information in a form that allows advertisers to reach users on other devices.
Vizio’s technology works by analyzing snippets of the shows you’re watching, whether on traditional television or streaming Internet services such as Netflix. Vizio determines the date, time, channel of programs — as well as whether you watched them live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then connected your IP address - the Internet address that can be used to identify every device in a home, from your TV to a phone.
Own a Vizio Smart TV? It’s Watching You
[Julia Angwin/Pro Publica]
CuloClean is a portable gadget that turns a plastic bottle into a bidet. I can’t vouch for its efficacy but it seems like a useful alternative to wiping your bum, especially as toilet paper has become a high-value currency. Apparently CuloClean supplies are also running low but it seems like you could make one yourself […]
Today apple announced a new MacBook Air (faster, cheaper) and an upgraded iPad Pro with LiDAR, “studio-quality” microphones and the full array of ultrawide and telephoto lenses as sported on recent top-of-the-line iPhones. But the thing that sells it to me is the new keyboard, which includes a trackpad (at last!) and fancy hinge that […]
A tiny, bargain-priced drone that delivers cinematic HD footage? Full speed ahead, backers! But alas, there’s a problem: coronavirus. The BBC reports on backers who pledged nearly $2m and are about to experience disappointment. Ash Hall, who reviews drones, published a damning video opinion piece on YouTube. He was fiercely critical not just of the […]
In case you’re one of those computer shoppers who instinctively turns up their nose at the very mention of the word refurbished, here are a couple myths worth dispelling. Refurbished equals junk somebody didn’t want. While desktops, laptops, notebooks, Chromebooks and tablets marked as refurbished may have been unboxed at some point, meaning they can […]
Electric bikes aren’t toys. And they aren’t a fad. In fact, more and more communities are starting to catch on that e-bikes are a lot more than an amusing gadget for the tech geek. Following a six-month study, Johnson County, Kansas, home to many Kansas City suburbs, became just the latest U.S. community to allow […]
Whether you’re living in a city that has already taken measures to reduce plastic bag use, the small silver lining of the pandemic has inspired you to make changes, or you’ve already started living a greener lifestyle, reusable produce bags are a great addition to your shopping routine. And if you’re going to invest in […]