Is Your TV Watching You? Yes. Yes It Is.
If you bought a Vizio TV after 2011, like 11 million other Americans did, you got a little bonus. According to a scathing report from the Federal Trade Commission, your portal to the Bachelor has been spying on you with some secret software installed to eavesdrop on your habits.
That's right, it's like Russia in your living room! But, instead of using that information to haul you off to Siberia - Vizio turned it into cold hard cash. To make matters worse, they didn't ask for permission or even let customers know about the tracking. In this day and age, information is super-valuable. The more personal, the better. Advertising companies pay top dollar for any piece of information that will help them zero in on you with commercials. All in all, Vizio settled the issue with $2.2 million in payments to the FTC and additional civil penalties. Read the FTC official statement here.
This opens a Pandora's Box of issues when it comes to privacy - something that is becoming increasingly scarce in the modern world. Surely this kind of software is common, so what is keeping every TV manufacturer from doing this? We've already seen websites, mobile apps, and the like glean marketable information from us from years. With more and more devices (refrigerators, vehicles, watches, etc.) being equipped with wireless connections to your home's wi-fi, cameras, and all sorts of information gathering devices - is the future full of peeping toms? The answer is absolutely yes.
Obviously, the only answer is to do all of your personal business in the closet with a blanket over the TV. Or, get ready for this.