Vizio Caught Tracking Your Viewing Habits

Following two years of monitoring the viewing habits on over 11 million TVs, this week, Vizio had to pay $2.2 million to settle the charges, after getting in trouble with the FTC. Instead of an opt-in setting, like what other manufacturers use, Vizio TVs has its tracking turned on by default. However, the newer models of Vizio TVs running the company’s SmartCast system have the tracking turned off by default.

The company is now banned from tracking clients viewing habits without permission. The restriction came as a relief after several complaints from people – they even filed a class action lawsuit in 2016.

What has the company been tracking?

The company has been collecting some of your personal information. According to the FTC, they can track what you watch every second if you’re playing a Blu-ray, watching cable or streaming movie. The collected information is then combined with your demographic details like age, sex, marital status, income, education, household size, household value and home ownership. Analytics and ad companies buy this information and use it to target advertisements to you. Vizio has been enthusiastic about this: the branded Inscape, data service was an important part of the company’s IPO pitch to investors before they were bought by LeEco last year.

As Lesley Fair’s blog explains, Vizio converted the information into money by selling users’ viewing histories to ad agencies and others. As a matter of fact, Vizio got personal. The only thing they didn’t allow is for the data to be linked to a particular person.

Owners of Vizio can turn off all tracking

Now, before tracking your habits, Vizio has sends pop-ups to get your consent, thanks to FTC. To disable tracking go to Menu –System – Reset and Admin. Then select Smart Interactivity, you can turn that off of or go deeper in the menu to the ‘Viewing Data’ section, and turn that off.