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  • Have a Vizio TV? Disconnect it or dump it

    Home Forums AskWoody support Connected home / Internet of things Questions: Other home/IoT products Have a Vizio TV? Disconnect it or dump it

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    This topic contains 31 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Kirsty 1 year ago.

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    • #91818 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      The US Federal Trade Commission just released a report that’s really scary. Those of you concerned about privacy and snooping take note:

      Starting in 2014, Vizio made TVs that automatically tracked what consumers were watching and transmitted that data back to its servers. Vizio even retrofitted older models by installing its tracking software remotely. All of this, the FTC and AG allege, was done without clearly telling consumers or getting their consent.

      What did Vizio know about what was going on in the privacy of consumers’ homes? On a second-by-second basis, Vizio collected a selection of pixels on the screen that it matched to a database of TV, movie, and commercial content. What’s more, Vizio identified viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Add it all up and Vizio captured as many as 100 billion data points each day from millions of TVs.

      Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and others. And let’s be clear: We’re not talking about summary information about national viewing trends. According to the complaint, Vizio got personal. The company provided consumers’ IP addresses to data aggregators, who then matched the address with an individual consumer or household.

      Un-flipping-believable.

      8 users thanked author for this post.
    • #91834 Reply

      bknight721
      AskWoody Lounger

      I don’t have a Vizio TV but I made the decision about a year ago that no TV, refrigerator, toaster, toilet or anything else in my house except a computer will ever be allowed to connect to the internet. There’s way too much of this nonsense going on (not to mention the strain it would put on a metered internet connection).

      Group "L": Linux Mint dual-booting Windows 10 Pro.

      5 users thanked author for this post.
      • #96591 Reply

        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        Do you think the Cable Companies do NOT do this ?

        Don’t bother to close the barn door after the horse has already left…

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
    • #91845 Reply

      anonymous

      From Wikipedia,

      Vizio Inc. is an American privately held company that develops consumer electronics. Headquartered in Irvine, California, United States, the company was founded in October 2002 as V Inc. and is best known as a producer of affordable flat-screen televisions.

    • #91851 Reply

      bobcat5536
      AskWoody Plus

      I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and Vizio just happened to get caught. Probably be surprised at the amount of this going on and trying to stem this sort of thing is like trying put out a forest fire with a garden hose. I guess it’s just a by product of the digital world we live in today and I doubt it’s going to get any better as far as privacy is concerned. Unplug the refrigerator and go to bed 🙂

    • #91852 Reply

      Kirsty
      Da Boss

      From the BBC report on the FTC:

      TV maker Vizio has agreed to pay out $2.2m in order to settle allegations it unlawfully collected viewing data on its customers.

      The US Federal Trade Commission said the company’s smart TV technology had captured data on what was being viewed on screen and transmitted it to the firm’s servers.

      The data was sold to third parties, the FTC said.

      That is SCARY. I agree with @bknight721 – the risks of this technology far outweigh the benefits.

      Un-flipping-believable? Absolutely, @woody.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #91859 Reply

      anonymous

      Isn’t M$ also doing this with Win 10, ie “unlawfully” collected data on its customers and transmitted it to the firm’s servers to be sold to third parties(= marketers).?
      Google and Apple also, eg with their free online/web services.?

      • #91977 Reply

        Isn’t M$ also doing this with Win 10, ie “unlawfully” collected data on its customers and transmitted it to the firm’s servers to be sold to third parties(= marketers).?

        Both the type of data being collected and how it’s being handled is completely unknown at this point. I have seen no indication that the snooped data is being sent to (or sold to) third parties.

        As for “unlawful” – highly unlikely. Microsoft has legions of lawyers to make sure everything’s done within the bounds of the law. Whether the law’s an ass – that’s a different question.

    • #91865 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:
      From cnet 2015
      Method one
      The process for disabling this feature is slightly different depending on your TV model. Owners of Vizio TVs with the normal VIA (VIZIO Internet Apps) interface can press the Menu button on the remote, open Settings, highlight Smart Interactivity and switch it to off.
      Method two
      To disable the Smart Interactivity feature on the models with the VIA Plus interface, press the Menu button on the remote to open Settings, select System, followed by Reset and Admin. Then scroll down to Smart Interactivity and switch it to off.

      You can now enjoy using your TV without having to worry about Big Brother watching over you.
      Vizio’s page notes that the “feature” has been disabled as of 02/06/2017 (today)
      like i’ve been sayin’ connect to the interweb at your own risk

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #91924 Reply

      Bill C.
      AskWoody Plus

      And that is why my Smart TV is not connected to my personal network or computers. If I remember correctly, another manufacturer was found to have a microphone on their TV enabled by default and it could be easily accessed to listen in to activity in the home.

      Now I wonder how many outraged folks have Cortana, Alexa, Siri, and other ‘convenience bugs’ in their homes or even worse is the proliferation of monitoring tech in cars. Fortunately my laptop has a manual switch for the microphone and a switch AND small door for the camera.

    • #92056 Reply

      anonymous

      LG and Samsung were dragged over the coals for this a few years ago because the ‘feature’ was turned on by default. The user could not turn it off so a firmware upgrade was required. Both manufacturers did announce firmware updates. The firmware set the default to off.

      Now think about it – TV owners downloading firmware, putting it on a thumb drive, finding the USB port on the TV and flashing the firmware. I have a LG Smart TV and the model I purchased required this update. I was OK with doing it, but I will hazard a guess that 99% of TV owners would not have bothered. I bet the vast majority of those with Vizio TVs will not implement the workaround and it does not involve a firmware flash.

      Here is something that should scare the pants of everybody …

      https://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2017/01/lg-wi-fi-in-everything/

      They are not alone. Most manufacturers want every appliance internet connected. They are salivating over it.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #92169 Reply

        Bill C.
        AskWoody Plus

        And there you have it. The IoT may be convenient. I find looking it the fridge for what we need to shop for is so boring, tedious and too much energy. Lets look at the smartphone. NOT!!! 😉

        LG’s ad motto is “Life is Good”, but neglects the ‘Except when it is not.’ Our new (2014) refrigerator (not LG) is not an IoT device, but it is controlled by a motherboard. During its first repair to replace the failed motherboard I joked to the warrantee repairman about it must run on Windows and he launched into a tirade about A windows update bricking his laptop. Funny in our basement, the prior fridge over 25 years old, has gone with no repairs, but it is all hardware, not software.

        I divulge, so back to Privacy – we are in that certain privacy twilight that was foreseen in concept from the following quote:

        “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

        Losing privacy is like the old joke of “what is seen cannot be unseen.” Privacy lost can never be restored. Just look at info on the net. It is disappointing that here in the US, monetization of your personal data and habits has not been challenged successfully, instead, we have to look to the Europeans to be the best Privacy guardians. I do not really expect the media to take up the baton, after all, major media outlets have been involved in phone hacking to get scoops. Keep in mind, part of the decline of the media is directly related to corporate ownership and shareholder values – it is really like the film “Network.”

        Attachments:
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        • #92991 Reply

          anonymous

          “As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” — Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

          Best. Quote. Ever.
          Thank you, Bill.

      • #92546 Reply

        anonymous

        My Samsung Smart TV can receive firmware updates through the internet, so it would be trivial to install for the average users, and the privacy-conscious users who have already disconnected it from the internet would likely be able to download the firmware to a USB stick and flash it manually.

    • #92087 Reply

      anonymous

      (Obligatory)

      In Soviet Russia, television watches you! ;^)

      LoneWolf

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #92145 Reply

      NightOwl
      AskWoody Plus

      Anyone

      I think this is just the tip of the iceberg and Vizio just happened to get caught.

      If you have Comcast Cable for TV (and probably Internet), about two years ago, they switched over to encrypted signals for all the TV channels–required that you get an add-on black box that is connected between the cable outlet and your TV (any brand, not just Vizio) to un-encrypt the signal so you can watch a given channel.

      You can no longer access any channels using the built-in tuner on the TV.

      Does anyone think that Comcast isn’t using that *black box* to monitor everything that’s being passed through to your TV?

      I see *targeted* ads all the time specific to my city–can’t say it has targeted my specific program being watched–but I suspect that gives them a chance to target ads that in general would apply to someone watching that program–for instance age, gender, etc.–the same target audience that the TV program is attempting to *hit*!

      Just saying ……

      NightOwl

      NightOwl

      No question is stupid ... but, possibly the answers are 😉 !

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #92599 Reply

        anonymous

        But this is more than just seeing the content that you get from say Comcast. Vizio scans the screen pixels thus as you are watching a movie from your Blu-Ray player, they can ID what you are watching. Play that DVD of “questionable material” from that small studio in San Francisco, Vizio knows it, sells that info, and your wife starts asking why you are getting mailings that pertain to…

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    • #92176 Reply

      Doug Terborg
      AskWoody Plus

      They got fined only $2.2 million? That probably doesn’t come close to the amount of money they made from this.

      Fines mean nothing if a company still profits from a deceptive practice; the penalties are considered “just the cost of doing business”.

      We are SysAdmins.
      We walk in the wiring closets no others will enter.
      We stand on the bridge, and no malware may pass.
      We engage in tech support, we do not retreat.
      We live for the LAN.
      We die for the LAN.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #92200 Reply

      Sessh
      AskWoody Lounger

      Almost bought a Vizio recently, but decided on a Samsung instead. It’s no surprise that this stuff is so widespread. If this is the future, then the future is bleak. All this technology that many people can’t live without at this point is going to be our undoing. A 2.2m fine for VIzio is nothing. That fine is basically saying “Well done!” It’s certainly not a penalty.

      Most Americans really have no clue of even the half of how much they are spied on. What’s worse is the things used to spy on them are the things many people can’t even go without long enough to go for a five minute walk; their phones. If people ever really wake up about this stuff, it won’t be a pretty sight. However, it’s still far to easy to dismiss such things as “conspiracies” and never give them a second thought. Inventing the term “conspiracy theory” remains one of the CIA’s crowning achievements and is still paying dividends today. It is still used to marginalize and undercut anyone who smells something fishy going on (with ANYTHING) long after the whole Warren Commission thing and people still don’t believe that.

      Anyway, a little off topic. I really wish I never would have chose the red pill sometimes.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #92318 Reply

      M. Patterson
      AskWoody Lounger

      All of this IoT stuff reminds me of an old Twilight Zone show called A Thing About Machines. At the time that it was written it was patently absurd. Mr. Finchley thinks all of the appliances in his home are out to get him, so he escapes his home, only to be run over by his own car. Utterly impossible back then, but not so far-fetched anymore.

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    • #92365 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      I have a Smart TV. When I turned it on the first time, it found my home wifi and asked for the password. Rather than do that, I disabled the connectivity stuff, and told it to skip that prompt when I turned on the TV. It is now nothing more than a digital TV with an HDMI port.

      When I want to watch something over the internet, I plug my laptop into the HDMI port and watch away.

      Too many people trade their privacy for convenience.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #92475 Reply

        anonymous

        Hope you also turned off your digital TV set-top box, if you have one. It collects data on what you watch and when you watch it. Advertisers/Marketers find this information extremely valuable, so it is a good guess that your ISP is selling them the info.

        The satellite and cable industry is fighting tooth and nail right now with regulators (USA) to keep this antiquated equipment as a mandatory device for the delivery of TV services. They argue that the rental fee is required to maintain and deliver the infrastructure and technology that supports current and future services. Obviously, they are not referencing the revenue they also get from selling data to third parties. They should be fined in the same manner as Vizio. There is no way that subscribers are aware or have opted-in or allowed to opt-out to this practice.

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        • #92575 Reply

          MrJimPhelps
          AskWoody_MVP

          Digital set-top box? What’s that?

          We use an antenna, nothing more, when we aren’t watching through the laptop. Either that, or a DVD. The only thing which is “connected” in this whole process is the laptop.

          Group "L" (Linux Mint)
          with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #92403 Reply

      anonymous

      It’s things like this that make me glad we have a regular “dumb” TV in my home.

      • #92579 Reply

        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        Good luck trying to buy a non-“smart” TV these days.

        But if you turn off all of the connectivity functionality in the TV, it becomes a “dumb” TV.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #92551 Reply

      David F
      AskWoody Plus

      Here’s another article about this on Bleeping Computer

      https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/hardware/vizio-fined-for-spying-on-users-via-smart-tvs-selling-user-data-without-consent/

      The real problem is that they probably made much more than the fine cost them, so aside from the bad publicity which will soon get forgotten it could be argued they have in fact been rewarded rather than punished.

      The GDPR which is being enacted in Europe is a step in the right direction but really needs to go much further and criminalise these practises outright. IMV until directors are held personally liable and subject to jail sentences this will just get worse and worse, as they have no real incentive to stop while getting a paltry fine which is just a business cost in effect.

    • #94094 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody_MVP

      If I checked into a hotel and they had an Amazon Echo in my room, I would either remove it or unplug it. And I would never stay at that hotel again.

      Big Brother is getting way too big.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
    • #222943 Reply

      Kirsty
      Da Boss

      Vizio, sued for making creepy smart TVs, will notify customers via the TVs
      Lawyers need a few more weeks to make sure Vizio tests settlement message.

      By Cyrus Farivar | September 11, 2018

       
      In what is likely a first in the industry, Vizio is on the verge of agreeing to display a class-action lawsuit message through its previously sold “Smart TV” televisions as part of a legal settlement. This message is meant to alert customers who bought the TV that they will be party to the forthcoming settlement and likely will get a small amount of money.

      As Ars has reported previously, the manufacturer has been under scrutiny since a 2015 revelation that it was snooping on its customers.

      The tracking started in February 2014 on both new TVs and previously sold devices that didn’t originally ship with ACR software installed. The software periodically appended IP addresses to the collected data and also made it possible for more detailed personal information—including age, sex, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and home values—to be associated.

      Eventually, the company agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a complaint brought by the Federal Trade Commission.

      However, this new settlement is related to an entirely separate lawsuit, one that was consolidated in federal court in Los Angeles.

       
      Read the full article here

      1 user thanked author for this post.

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