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Vizio’s Smart TVs have been spying on us

One of the most troubling stories of the week: Vizio’s Smart TVs have been secretly recording information about our viewing habits and selling it to analytics companies, media companies, and other partners. Dan Goodin at Ars Technica has a good summary of the situation, as does Sapna Maheshwari from the NYTimes. From the FTC’s complaint:

Through the ACR software, Vizio’s televisions transmit information about what a consumer is watching on a second-by-second basis. Defendants’ ACR software captures information about a selection of pixels on the screen and sends that data to Vizio servers, where it is uniquely matched to a database of publicly available television, movie, and commercial content. Defendants collect viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, external streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Defendants have stated that the ACR software captures up to 100 billion data points each day from more than 10 million VIZIO televisions. Defendants store this data indefinitely.

Defendants’ ACR software also periodically collects other information about the television, including IP address, wired and wireless MAC addresses, WiFi signal strength, nearby WiFi access points, and other items.

Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million and delete a lot of the relevant data. Over at Vizio’s website, they have info on how to opt out of the program.