Your ‘smart TV’ is watching you and reporting to others

( The “Internet of things” is unfolding before our eyes and as it does, the technology used to connect more and more of our devices to the world is wreaking havoc on our privacy.

As reported by Pro Publica, television manufacturers love to crow about all that their “smart” TVs can do, but one of the industry’s most popular brands does something its maker isn’t talking about: Vizio’s Smart TVs track what you watch and then share that data with advertisers who then locate you via your smart phone and other devices.

Called “Smart Interactivity,” the tracking technology is activated by default for the more than 10 million Smart TVs the company has sold. And for any customer who finds out that he or she is being tracked, they have to make an effort to opt out (click here).

In a statement to Pro Publica, the company said that customers’ “non-personal identifiable information may be shared with select partners … to permit those companies to make, for example, better informed decisions regarding content production, programming and advertising.”

That said, what Vizio is doing with its TVs appears to go farther than what other manufacturers of similar products are doing in the still-emerging interactive television industry. Rivals Samsung and LG Electronics only track users’ viewing habits if customers choose to activate the feature. Also, unlike Vizio, they don’t appear to be providing information in a way that provides advertisers the ability to contact users on other devices.

Notes Pro Publica further:

Vizio’s technology works by analyzing snippets of the shows you’re watching, whether on traditional television or streaming Internet services such as Netflix. Vizio determines the date, time, channel of programs — as well as whether you watched them live or recorded. The viewing patterns are then connected your IP address – the Internet address that can be used to identify every device in a home, from your TV to a phone.

At present federal law prohibits cable TV and video rental companies from selling information about customers’ viewing habits. Vizio said, however, that those laws – embodied in the Video Privacy Protection Act and cable subscriber protections – do not apply to its TV business.

Smart TVs have been infringing on privacy protections for some time. In February 2013 Natural News reported that Samsung televisions a security firm discovered a glitch in Samsung’s Smart TV that could allow hackers access to the device’s built-in camera and microphones, allowing them to watch everything you do.

The Malta-based security company, ReVuln, posted a video demonstrating how a team of researchers were able to hack into the Smart TV and access its setting, widgets, channel lists, USB drives and configurations for its remote control. The flaw permits hackers to gain access to any and all personal data stored on the TV as well, said the firm.

“We can install malicious software to gain complete root access to the TV,” the video noted.

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