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Security & privacy

Smart TVs tracking you without your permission

Having a “smart-home” is one of the great benefits of modern technology. This, of course, is when your everyday appliances connect to the internet and give you more information and control than imaginable. You can even control these amazing Internet of things (IoT) items with your virtual assistant of choice.

Some of the most popular IoT devices are smart TVs. They have undoubtedly changed the way many of us watch television. However, if you own one of these smart televisions, you need to know about this troubling privacy issue.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of New Jersey just settled a lawsuit that they had filed against TV manufacturer Vizio. The lawsuit claimed that beginning in 2014, Vizio started building software into its smart TVs that would allow them to track users’ watching habits.

Vizio settles unauthorized tracking lawsuit

Vizio has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the lawsuit. The company does not admit fault as part of the settlement.

The FTC alleged that Vizio was tracking users’ watching habits without first obtaining their permission. Vizio then shared demographic info from each household with other companies, such as viewers’ ages, income, and marital status and combined it with their viewing habits to come up with targeted ads.

Along with the settlement payment, going forward Vizio will have to ask for user consent before collecting and sharing users’ viewing habits. Also, most of the data that Vizio gathered before March 1, 2016, must be deleted.

What you need to do

If you own a Vizio smart TV you are able to turn off the tracking function. Here are the steps to turn it off:

  • Go to the TV’s System setting
  • Select Reset & Admit
  • Select Smart Interactivity
  • Select Off

Vizio is not the only smart television maker that sends user information to third-party companies. Samsung and LG also have these types of functions. Click here if you own a smart TV from one of those companies to find out how to turn off its tracking function.

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