The Phaserl


Popular Smart TV Brands Watch YOU Then Sell the Data to Advertisers

by Jake Anderson, Activist Post:

Since 9/11, American citizens have become relatively anesthetized to the growth of the surveillance state. However, the NSA’s civil liberty transgressions sometimes obscure a reality that is becoming increasingly noxious: private industry is watching us just as voraciously as the government. Sometimes they use cameras, but it seems that more often, they are creating data-driven behavioral profiles of us based on everyday consumption in our own homes.

A troubling new report by ProPublica reveals that Vizio Smart TVs track what we view and report that information in a form that allows advertisers to then directly reach us on other devices. This is a bold new step past previous data collection by Samsung and LG Electronics.

The system is called “Smart Interactivity,” and here’s how it works: when you watch a Vizio Smart TV, the company assesses samples of what you’re viewing to note the date, time, content, and channel of programming, as well as your IP address; Vizio partners with data brokers to link your IP address with your age, gender, income and interests; the new “enhanced data” is given to advertisers, who track all devices associated with that IP address. 

Companies like Experian, Tapad, and Neustar use proprietary  “data enrichment” services to analyze certain attributes and factors like wealth and profession. They then tailor that information to deliver consumer profiles linked directly to IP addresses. Though each of these companies denies working with Vizio, it is with the service of “data enrichment” that the popular electronics brand is able to offer advertisers highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale,” which is the pitch Vizio made in an October SEC filing.

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