Of smart TVs and their spying habits, there isn’t exactly anything new to it though the trend is back in the limelight thanks to Vizio and their hi-tech and detailed spying operation. This, in fact, brings to the more disturbing question -What about the others? Before that, let’s first delve a bit into Vizio’s antics.
Vizio collected pixel data from a section of the display and sent it back to the company servers. There, the data used to be tallied against a database comprising of TV, film and advertisement content. This way, the TV manufacturer got to know what you watched, when and for how long.
Also, since Vizio poached directly on the pixels, this allowed them to keep a close watch on your viewing habits irrespective of the content source, whether be it from cable, online or Blu-Ray discs. Also, given that Vizio recorded the pixels every second, its enormous amount of data that the company collected.
To make matters worse, it coupled the information with the user’s IP address and sold it to third party players, without you ever having an inkling of what was going on behind that excellent display. That information will be a gold mine for advertisers who are out to pamper you with deals tailor-made for you.
The entire saga, however, is likely to be far murkier than it seems. For Vizio might well have recorded what you did and spoke while watching TV via the in-built microphone and camera respectively. Those may seem unlikely though it isn’t impossible either. Particularly when Samsung is already known to have done that on the pretext of getting your voice samples for their Voice Recognition feature to work properly.
However, while that is acceptable to some extent, what is not is the fact that Samsung sent those data back to its server without proper encryption. Also, if you have spoken any sensitive topics, those might come back to haunt you someday.
Vizio stands accused of spying on your TV viewing habits, ordered to pay $2.2mn in damages
LG is slightly more diplomatic and stated they aren’t sure if their smart TVs spied on you. Also, LG Smart TVs run the WebOS operating system which initially was designed to run on tablet and smartphone devices. LG tailored it to suit their requirements on a smart TV, and it’s not known if they have planned any software that can keep track of you.
Sony, another major player in the smart TV segment, has a better track record and is known to have sound policies in place when it comes to upholding the privacy of its customers. However, given that its range runs on Android TV, the standard Google privacy rules are applicable for all its sets. Apple TV is also least likely to be prying on you, which isn’t surprising given their fierce stand on protecting the privacy of its customers.