Jacob Kastrenakes for The Verge:
Vizio got in trouble with the FTC this week and had to pay $2.2 million to settle charges around having monitored the viewing habits on more than 11 million TVs without consent over the course of two years.
The main problem was that Vizio TVs had tracking features turned on by default, instead of an opt-in setting like many other manufacturers use (and, as you’ll see, sometimes hide or trick you into accepting). Newer Vizio TVs that run the company’s SmartCast system have the tracking turned off by default.
I’ve never been a fan of TVs that are more than a dumb display, mostly due to terrible interfaces or having other hardware that can fail (this goes back to those dreadful TV/VCR combos). How long will it be until these interfaces are outdated technology or don’t work? We don’t replace our TVs as often as other gadgets.
What Vizio did was extra scummy and not surprising that others might be doing it, too. With a non-connected display and some sort of extra device, I define the relationship I have with the hardware (currently, I have a TiVo and an Apple TV; they don’t know about each other). Plus, in a few years, I can replace both with something else and not have a TV with no functioning or useless features. Unfortunately, “built-in Netflix/Hulu/etc.” is what consumers seem to want, and I’ll probably never connect the inevitable smart functions on my next TV to the Internet.