Recently, Vizio agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New Jersey a total of US$2.2M to settle a complaint that it spied on its TV customers. Customers probably know that their cable/satellite company DVRs collect and upload information about their viewing habits, but it’s an unexpected and sorry state of affairs when the TV device itself is also reporting on your viewing habits.

Eye Spy on Your TV

TMO’s Bryan Chaffin had a lot to say about this practice recently and delved into the details and statements by the FTC and Vizio. If you missed it, catch up here: “Vizio Smart TVs Spied on You, and the FTC Settled with a Wrist Slap.

These ever developing, semi-hidden technologies, beneath the radar of regulatory agencies, violate privacy and go after viewers with targeted advertising. Then, when caught, the creators claim that the proposed regulations would interfere with revenue streams they can’t live without. You know, those nasty regulations that interfere with business growth.

Right after that news came out, The Verge published a very nice article that explains how to, for the most part, inhibit tracking by a smart TV by digging in, paying attention to the setup process, reading the EULA, reading reviews, and becoming familiar with the privacy settings in the TV. “Most smart TVs are tracking you — Vizio just got caught.The Verge referenced an older but still valuable article at The Wirecutter. “Your Privacy, Your Devices and You.

It’s a shame that you can’t just buy a 4K/UHD TV and turn it on. You’ll have to do some homework and thoroughly understand both the settings and what you may lose by severing its Wi-Fi connection after the initial setup. Don’t hurry though the setup process, and watch for suggestions to enable cool sounding features whose name you don’t recognize.

One great resource is to consult with (and pay) your local CEDIA certified home theater technician. It could be worth the peace of mind. Right on the CEDIA home page is an orange box that’ll help you get connected to someone locally. And while there, the technician can calibrate your color settings as well.

Next page: The news debris for the week of February 6th. Consumers fail to understand internet tracking.

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The problem is that the average Joe TV buyer doesn’t understand 90% of this article, not that they should. This can be pretty technical stuff for average folks. I think we need legislations t boils down to two simple statements:

1) We (TV company) are not collecting any personalized data about you from your TV.
2) We (TV company) collect some data, and here is specifically what we collect and how often.

Then the average consumer can decide if they want to participate or not.