Vizio televisions have a reputation for excellent picture quality at low prices, but as a new report shows, the trade-off is aggressive behavior tracking by default.
The report by ProPublica calls out Vizio for diving deeper into data collection than its rival TV makers. The company’s “Smart Interactivity” feature is enabled by default, and analyzes everything that happens on the TV, from watching movies to playing games. Vizio then associates the usage data with an IP address, which can then identify other Internet-connected devices in the home.
What happens to the data? Vizio says it shares “non personal identifiable information” with partners for targeted content and advertising. ProPublica also claims that Vizio combines the viewing data with other information from Neustar, a data broker, presumably to build a more complete profile of the user. This data is supposed to be anonymized, but ProPublica notes that it’s increasingly possible to link IP addresses to individuals, and Vizio’s policy doesn’t mention encryption for the IP address.
To Vizio’s credit, you can opt out of this data collection. The company’s website even provides clear instructions on how to do so. But Vizio is clearly banking on the hope that most people won’t bother. A recent SEC filing ahead the company’s planned Initial Public Offering boasts of a system for “highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy.”