VIZIO updates Smart TV privacy policy, clarifies its devices collect data by default

VIZIO updated its privacy policy this past month and elaborated on its data collection, as well as its exchanges with third parties.
VIZIO updated its privacy policy this past month and elaborated on its data collection, as well as its exchanges with third parties.

Similarly to Samsung's Smart TV privacy policy controversy earlier this year, VIZIO is now coming under pressure after changing its own Smart TV policy.

The new policy delves into the company's “Smart Interactivity,” or a feature on its TVs that “recognizes onscreen content and may in the future permit you to interact with this content,” the policy stated.

This feature is automatically set to “on” by default but can be disabled, the company stated.

The controversial portion of the policy comes with the data collected and its purposes. The policy stated that the company collects “various categories” of data that can be used to “identify or contact a specific person directly from purchasers and users of our consumer products and services.”

VIZIO also collects anonymous information that on its own does not “permit direct association with any specific individual.” Included in this data is the IP address used to connect to the TVs, a user's zip code, the online services visited and more specific product information. Information about customer activities on the company's websites, its products and services and its online store are also collected.

This information can be contracted out to third parties, the policy states, and the personal and anonymous data could be combined with additional information. This data combo could be exchanged with advertisers and other partners to “provide you with an optimal user experience and better understand how users access the VIZIO products and services.”

“We use Personal Information to respond to your requests for information, to ship products and deliver services, to provide support, to customize the advertising and content that you see, and to communicate with you about your VIZIO products and services,” it said.

When it comes to the “Smart Interactivity,” however, the company issued a supplemental portion to its privacy policy. This automatic features collects data “related to publicly available content displayed on your television, such as the identity of your broadcast, cable or satellite television provider, and the television programs and commercials viewed (including time, date, channel, and whether you view them live or at a later time.”

This data is anonymous and is not collected from TVs outside the U.S.

Ultimately, this data combines with a user's IP address and other non-personal information to help third party advertisers select and deliver ads. The ads might also be used on devices beyond the Smart TV.

Even if the function is turned off, the company noted that a user might continue to see “tailored ads on other devices that were targeted on the basis of Viewing Data that was shared before you turned off collection.”

VIZIO hasn't responded to a SCMagazine.com request for comment.

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