Vizio playing big brother

Alex, November 17, 2015 05:07
TV manufacturer VIZIO has released 10 million TV sets with spyware on it. The software monitors your viewing behavior and sends this data back to VIZIO HQ. It also scans your local network. VIZIO will share this data with "select partners". The company did not tell me who their partners are.

IPO

On October 22, 2015 the company registered an initial public offering with the SEC. In the mission statement it reads
VIZIO's mission is to deliver the ultimate entertainment experience through our community of connected consumers, advertisers and media content providers. VIZIO form-s-1
And how is VIZIO going to this, well:
creating a community of over 10 million VIZIO connected units, or VCUs. A VCU is a Smart TV that has been connected to the Internet and has transmitted data collected by our Inscape data services. Our Inscape data services capture real-time viewing behavior data from our VCUs and enable us to provide it to advertisers and media content providers.VIZIO form-s-1

Data collected

In the VIZIO privacy policy they are very clear about what data is gathered, transmitted, stored and shared. Of course they want to know which device you have, the programs you have been watching, the content you bought online, but do they really need to know
the presence of other devices connected to your local networkVIZIO Privacy Policy
Pro-tip: put IoT devices, SmartTVs, smart refrigerators on a guest network. VIZIO does not need access to your tablets, phones, NAS or thermostat.

Samsung and LG

Samsung and LG also track users' viewing habits if customers choose to turn this feature on. It is, unlike on VIZIO devices, disabled by default. In the FAQ document VIZIO states
Your privacy is a priority at VIZIO, and we take responsible measures to protect it by maintaining internal practices that help protect the security and confidentiality of the information collected. VIZIO Privacy Policy
Well that sounds great but what does it mean? I called VIZIO service desk to get an answer but they were unable to provide me with an answer.

Disable Smart Interactivity

Tracking and monitoring is enabled by default. You can disable it by following these opt-out steps:
  1. Press the MENU button on your TV's remote.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Highlight Smart Interactivity.
  4. Press RIGHT arrow to change setting to Off.
But I suggest you disable the network connection from your TV completely or at least put it on a separate LAN.