This is what you need to know about Vizio Smart TV spying that the FTC just fined Vizio for doing. If you own a Vizio Smart TV, there is a good chance it monitored what you were watching and sold that information to third parties that then targeted ads towards you across a variety of devices.
If you own a Vizio TV that you’ve used to watch TV shows or movies since 2014, the company likely tracked what you were watching. The company started adding this tracking capability to Vizio Smart TVs in 2014 and delivered the capability to older Vizio TVs to further track what you watch.
It’s not against the law for Vizio to collect your viewing habits and sell them, but it is illegal to do so without telling you about it or at least hiding that information in a long term of service agreement that you need to agree to before you use your TV.
How to Stop Vizio Smart TV Spying
Here’s how to disable Vizio Smart TV tracking right now. Go to Menu -> System -> Reset & Admin. Then choose Smart Interactivity. Look for an option to turn that off or a section called Viewing Data, which you can also turn off.
There is no Vizio recall or refund that will put more money in your pocket or help you get rid of your Vizio Smart TV.
What Vizio Spied On
The FTC explains how Vizio spied on what you were watching. Lesley Fair of the FTC writes, “On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content. What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.”
Once Vizio gathered all of this data Vizio started to sell that data to companies. This is not just data that outlines another person watching Celebrity Apprentice. The data included your home IP address as well as, “sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education, and home ownership.” From this point, the companies could track and target you with ads across devices.
While Vizio didn’t connect your exact TV viewing to your name, this may have influenced the ads that you saw across devices in your home.
What’s Next for Vizio
As part of the Vizio FTC settlement, Vizio will pay $2.2 million broken down between the FTC, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and a $300,000 suspended fine. Vizio also agreed to, “stop unauthorized tracking, to prominently disclose its TV viewing collection practices, and to get consumers’ express consent before collecting and sharing viewing information.” Vizio must also delete most of the data collected during this Smart TV spying period.