It seems we’re getting closer and closer to a “Big Brother” scenario every day, and here’s yet another example. Smart TVs are so smart that they are keeping track of what their users are watching. So if you feel like you’re being watched while in your living room, it isn’t just paranoia. It’s probably your smart TV.
Vizio fined over smart TV tracking
The reason they’re able to track everything you watch is because they connect to the Internet, so this isn’t much different than Google tracking everything you do online. However, it might feel more invasive because it’s moving the tracking into your living room. We’ve already seen Internet firms get fined for tracking their users’ browsing habits, so it seems likely that TV manufacturers that track users will be next. About the only good news we have here is that at least it doesn’t sound like smart TVs are spying on us using cameras, but that’s probably the next step.
The reason we know they can track users’ viewing habits is because Vizio just had to settle charges related to tracking users without their permission. The TV maker allegedly tracked more than 11 million of its smart TV sets without securing permission from their owners and shelled out $2.2 million in a settlement. The company also must get express permission from all owners of its TV sets before it can track their viewing habits.
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How to keep them from tracking you
Tech Times put together a list of suggestions for those who don’t want their TV sets keeping track of every last thing they watch. The easiest method is to simply keep your regular TV set or swap out your smart set for an older one that can’t connect to the Internet on its own (streaming devices like Google’s Chromecast are fine), but if you forked over big bucks for a new set with a beautiful picture and smart functions you really enjoy, there are other options.
Another option is to flip off Wi-Fi, which will keep the TV from connecting to the Internet. If you ever find out that the manufacturer of your set was fined for the same thing Vizio was, then your problem is probably solved and you might be free to flip the Wi-Fi back on—if you dare. If you’re looking to buy a smart TV, Vizio might be a good option since it’s not supposed to be tracking users’ habits any longer.
And finally, you could use a set-top box or other streaming device instead of actually using the apps on your TV. Some devices won’t track your viewing habits at all, but most will give you more control over how much tracking they do. You might even find that you like the interface on other streaming devices better than the one on your smart TV.