Do You Own a Vizio Smart TV? It May Be Watching You.
Have you recently bought one of those fancy new "Smart TVs" that offers built-in content from services like Netflix, Amazon.com, and Hulu? There may be a big downside—reports suggest that TV maker Vizio tracks every program you watch and phones home the data about your viewing habits. This even applies to TV programs you watch through satellite or cable!
A recent investigation by ProPublica revealed that Vizio Smart TVs include a surreptitious tracking feature, enabled by default, that monitors what you watch, scans your network for devices and serial numbers, and ships all the data back to the company. Vizio, in conjunction with its subsidiary, Cognitive Networks, then mashes all this data and your IP address with additional information from "data brokers," which may include your gender, age, income, interests—and possibly even your name. The data is then passed back to Vizio and sold to advertisers who can track your habits and send you targeted ads.
If the whole process sounds a little creepy and Big Brother-ish, that's because Vizio nowhere discloses what it's actually doing. And while there may be a way to opt out, that option is buried underneath numerous settings screens and termed "Smart Interactivity," whatever that means. It's a little Orwellian, if you ask us.
Of course, if you actually read the mountain of pages Vizio includes in its SEC filings to take the company public, Vizio spills the beans, touting to investors its ability to provide “highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy.”
Vizio's complete failure to disclose this information to its customers may violate numerous state and federal laws, including the Video Privacy Protection Act, a law that prohibits video providers from disclosing this type of viewing information without your consent and carries statutory damages of $2,500 per violation.
If you purchased a Vizio Smart TV and are interested in participating in a class action to stop this practice, please contact us by completing the form (at right) or call Noah Schubert at 415.788.4220.