Not sure what I can answer but for years my company worked on an Automatic Content Recognition project using tools from a team called Cognitive Networks who were bought by Vizio and makes up the tech that did this. If I understand correctly the founder of Vizio kept this tech for himself in the sale of Vizio.
When developing this we would work directly with Cognitive checking sync'd apps. We knew for a long time that they could see our content in their office while we tested.
Note LG got caught on this about 2-3 years ago and made ACR apps opt-in which pretty much killed it for LG.
AFAIK Samsung never did the exact same thing a bunch of providers saw the writing on the wall and dumped this sort of technology a few years back. It had some really cool applications for interactive sync to broadcast apps but the privacy concerns killed it for a lot for a lot of manufacturers.
In response to some of the other comments here, basically what they are guilty of isn't spying but failing to properly disclose and opt-in users. There is a particular major AV vendor who is selling raw clickstream data of millions of their user's internet usage directly to marketers and other parties right now. As far as I can tell, as long as it is buried somewhere in the terms and conditions no one cares.
Of course, other companies that are actually serving the content are doing far more than just passively monitoring your viewing habits.
From my best guess, Facebook is logging every signal it can from content/pictures/videos it displays to users. Even if you didn't click like, comment, or click through the link it knows the story captured your attention.
I had an interesting case with Instagram where after viewing enough pictures of women's butts it started also showing men's bare butts in my feed too.. at least until I never opened any of them, and they disappeared.
Users should consider that content providers are going to have extremely deep data sets of even the most minute dimensions of their political leanings, porn viewing habits, dating preferences, and gullibilities. All of this will make what TV shows you watched between Netflix and NBC beyond mundane.
With an open web, where we get content from the source, this shouldn't actually be possible. Thank the platform business model.
Of particular concern are "shadow profiles" - dossiers on people who have never even used or consented to using Facebook. I'm no lawyer, but there could be precedent per this Vizio case.
In my opinion Facebook is hugely overstepping people's privacy bounds, even if they do bury what they do with some of the data in their terms of service. I never even knew about DeepFace, or mouse cursor movements, or any of the multitudes of violations of privacy outlined in the article below, and frankly it scares me and makes me angry.
I certainly never read or even saw any warning about facial matching in all my photos or my children's photos.
Besides all that, people with shadow profiles who never even used Facebook or agreed to their TOS are being tracked. This is not ok.
I feel like there is a double standard here: we are vilifying Vizio - a company that has mutliple competitors - for much less wrongdoing than what Facebook is guilty of, even though FB has a de facto monopoly on social networking.
Edit: there is a link on the ftc.gov website where you can file a complaint against a company with concerns how it handles your privacy: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Company#crnt
Burn it all. Facebook and Vizio.
I think you misread the comment. These are people that already don't use Facebook.
ugh. Name them please! If it's in the ToS they shouldn't mind being called out.
Here are the terms, it's in section 8.Privacy, processing of personal information.
However "AVAST may publish or share such information with third parties that are not part of the AVAST Group but will only ever do so after removing personally identifiable information."
"Jumpshot also captures https clickstream data to reveal in-depth buying and social behavior above and beyond simple browsing."
Capturing https clickstream data is only possible when you MITM the user - see Avast.
At least, not all extension developers gave in to $$$.
no such thing.
This truly is technology run amok. "Welcome to buttstagram, for your butt viewing pleasure."
When I think about this situation it makes me want to stay entirely away from social media and off the internet. Yet it's ubiquity in our lives makes it difficult to be integrated and participant in society without the technology. And a lot of the features really do disappear when you remain entirely anonymous (via tor, incognito, not having accounts etc).
(Those in the dark search for cloud2butt browser plugin)
Or: Yet the ubiquity in our lives of Stuff that was never built for us (pretty sure I never gave the billionaires at FB and Goog as much as a single dollar), but merely to lure us, makes it difficult to be integrated with and unwittingly enabling that Stuff without installing and using that Stuff.
Later that day when we are back at home, she showed me an ad about that same restaurant. We never searched for something similar (this is a vegan restaurant), but only talked about it on our way home.
How is it going to connect to your neighbours wifi? How is someone driving past going to connect to your TV? Is the TV going to set itself up as an access point?
I'm completely behind not connecting random devices in my house to the internet but suggesting they are somehow trying to get data out by connecting to random networks or will just broadcast it for anyone to hear is a bit much.
We already see this with things like ultrasonic communication. A compromised (has sketchy app installed) phone could, for example, communicate with your television or computer speakers and mic via ultrasonic frequencies to determine what ads you have seen, or what digital streaming content you are consuming.
An app could take it even a step further and use a root exploit and secretly take a short recording every 10 minutes or so to relay to someone who wants to know what song or movie you were consuming.
This isn't just possible, things like this have already been found in the wild.
And you can bet your bottom dollar these snaky companies would keep their mouths shut under a NSL if it meant they could keep tracking you.
Frak it, TV is going in a Faraday cage
In the UK nearly everywhere send to have a BT WiFi signal as they give out routers with a commercial side-channel that anyone can pay to access. If your smart device had access to BT WiFi they'd get a signal out in many places regardless of whether the TV owner had WiFi.
Also lookup smart water meters, that can be read by driving by.
TBH, that's for too deep for my moral calculus. The only things I view/pirate from Netflix are Netflix original series and PBS documentaries/educational programs. I'm paying the former directly and the latter isn't really out to maximize profit but to enlighten and educate and it's somewhat supported by my tax dollars.
(Of course, the royalty is different for every piece of content, but the amount is negotiated ahead of time; it is not on a per-usage basis.)
This is different from iTunes movies, Amazon (non-Prime) Video, Vudu, Google Play, etc., which license on a revenue share basis.
So his strategy does increase royalty payments, but doesn't "vote" for who should receive those royalties.
Those deals probably include some combination of up-front payment as well as per-view payment.
Whhen I do use Netflix it's through my PS4.
Instagram was purely chronological until mid way through last year. And it only shows you content you've subscribed to. So it's possible an account you were following changed its posting habits.
The difference between what we worked on and what Cognitive/Inscape eventually did and got dinged for was that we were using this technology to build sync to broadcast apps not for tracking viewing and usage habits. The work we did never got to large scale deployments and we honestly forgot a bit about it. I knew what Inscape was doing - nothing secret just kind of in the industry weeds - post Vizio sale but honestly didn't think that much about it until now.
The majority of the population and the majority of developers seem to not care at all about intimately targeted ads.
At my current job, I don't have any privacy-related issues, but I have to handle occasional clueless ideas from the customer. It usually goes like this:
They: We want to have this security-related change X.
Me: Uh ok... but are you sure it's a good idea? What's your threat model?
Me: You see, this change will make it more difficult for user to do Y, with no real
benefit to security, because A, B and C.
They: Uh... yes, you're right; let's not do it then.
Still, how did this article come about? What is a whistle blower?
How do you really know LG stopped their data collection? Sure they might have made a checkbox be switched off by default, but what does that say about the underlying software? IMO, nothing. It might have been a PR damage control campaign without an actual change.
There were multiple ACR Vendors doing the same thing (Gracenote, Samba TV are two at top of my head, there were many failed vendors in this space)
Google ACR on TVs and you'll find all the info you need
(BTW the app in that techcrunch article is the one we worked on)
We all know people lie on the internet sometimes. We can't explicitly bring up the possibility everytime someone makes any statement, or half the internet would be "careful, this might not be true!".
What I want to know is, how did Vizio get caught? Was there a whistle blower. This article doesn't mention (unless I just missed it) how the FTC discovered this.
It might not help, of course.
Moreover, without vote visibility you can't tell if the reason given by one person is supported by others.
I understand that often often times people will use downvotes as a substitute for disagreeing, despite that being explicitly against its true function. Ultimately, you're complaining about fictitious karma points.
If you are a regular contributor who follows the rules, over time your karma will accrue and this can be a fuzzy way to weigh your importance to the community. The danger of valuing karma too much will cause the system to be gamed by marketers and astroturfers (see Reddit for Example A)
Early on with HN pg stated that downvoting for disagreement was proper behaviour on HN. My opinion is that's wrong but, in contrast to other fora, downvoting to disagree is thus explicitly a part of proper behaviour here.
That said, I don't care about the points, it's a matter of social value - if you don't know why people are disagreeing then you can't address that concern or reassess your own position, the downvoted adds no value whilst a comment may.
* Not the opinion of my (former) employer.
As another poster here asked: were there any ethical discussions in the organization?
I much prefer my old dumb TV that has a Roku plugged into it. Oh yeah, and I know it's not WATCHING ME.
But also, why do you not expect your Roku / apple tv / etc to be watching you?
Prices are much higher though.
Not that much higher ... maybe double ?
Remember, the digital signage displays are often used in arrays of 12 or 18 or 24 displays, so they have to be somewhat cost-competitive - otherwise an airport or hotel lobby or mall couldn't stitch 24 of them together.
I always chime in on these discussions to urge folks to buy a digital signage / commercial display (probably from NEC). Not only are they as dumb as dumb gets, but they are also very, very high performance displays.
It's probably because of the ad blockers but still a site should be a little functional without all the scripts and ads.
Don't connect it to the Internet? Barring the manufacturer sneaking a backup cellular modem in there, seems like it's an easy fix.
Hisense is also now selling under the Sharp brand name.
Would you be so kind to provide links to these products? I am interested in a high-quality display without smart features.
I suppose you could just buy a new smart TV and not inform it of its WiFi details.
Does like everything stop working without internet now? ...sigh
This has been very economic, and environmentally friendly, and I can't see why we can't continue for several more years with the same screen.
Know what was state-of-the-art in embedded CPUs 10 years ago? The original iPhone. It had a 400 MHz single-core processor with 128MB RAM. Do you think app developers that have quad- and octo-core CPUs and literally 8 or 16 times the memory are going to optimize for the old platform, or build and maintain several versions of their applications?
Personally I'd rather spend of $35 ~ $200 every few years, instead of $800 ~ $2000, to have an up-to-date system.
I'm guessing that this doesn't just mean that it comes in the same box as the tv set.
Now, I know this is just a single anecdote, and that it could very well have been a coincidence, and that in the grand scheme of thing this is one of the more innocuous uses of tracking, but it was still a somewhat though-provoking experience.
"In a departure from the trend toward smarter and smarter sets, the Vizio P-Series lacks built-in smart-TV features. It’s basically a dumb TV, not just lacking apps but also dispensing with a tuner."
If you're using a STB, that hardly matters, but I'd think a cord-cutter would like the option to plug an antenna in the back and watch OTA stations without needing extra hardware.
I dont ever see myself using autonomous, internet connected cars. I cant think of a bigger hacking target for terrorists and mischief makers alike.
And their response was basically "yeah, it's not that big of a deal, don't worry about it". Someone with really bad intentions could set up a few arduinos/rPIs in populated cities, set them to broadcast the 'inject insulin' command and then sit back and watch people drop dead if they wander within range.
The scary stuff I worry about is what an evil scientist, like the one from 12 monkeys, could do with a deadly virus. This type of evil gets more far more "bang for the buck". I guess both are equally plausible. I might worry more about your scenario if I were diabetic!
I disagree. The remote and disconnected nature of this renders it less real than say killing a person with a knife. You don't have to witness first hand the yelling, screaming, pleading, suffering, etc. and finally the moment when a person sublimates from a living, breathing, unique being to a lifeless husk. It's like pushing a button to kill someone...it can be so far away that it's not quite real.
When I was younger, I spent time on 4chan's /b/ and could see some of the more deranged+immature members of the community doing things like this for the lulz or using some half-baked logic rooted in 20th century eugenics. Example A: Individuals like Dylan Roof who don't understand statistics and the context around it (I watched the entirety of his interrogation and he's borderline mentally challenged or autistic)
It only takes someone having it out for any specific individual who depends on the device. The OneTouch pump is a convenient murder weapon that could make the death look like an accident. (Or the possibility of many collateral casualties could be a plus to some.)
I have a "smart" home (well, parts of it -- it's expensive to do everything!).
It turns on a few select lights when it gets dark out, unless there are already lights on (eg: we're home) in which case it doesn't change anything. It turns lights off late at night in case we forget. It turns the front lights on at 30% between dusk and midnight, and cranks to 100% anytime between dusk and dawn if there's motion or the garage door is open (then gradually puts them back to what they were). Most useful, there's buttons on the kitchen keypad labelled "Dim" "Bright" and "Off" that adjust the lights over the island, sink, table, and under-cabinet and range hood (all separate). Another useful one is the "all off" button by the front door -- there's no corresponding "all on" because (as mentioned above) that happens automatically, and we never walk into a dark house.
All of it can be controlled from any PC/tablet/phone, and of course all of it could be done over the internet -- except that I don't have any of the ports open, because I don't see the point. The ability of connected switches to be controlled by other switches/motion/time yet still allow manual operation is very nice, and it's significantly cheaper than a massive re-wiring project.
I hate that there's this huge craze that confuses "smart" with "on the internet". It's an entire industry that is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.
If I'm gone or even if I lose the phone, I really wonder if anyone else will ever figure out how to shut that off. They'll probably just throw the bulbs out.
By definition, this is what makes it smart. It's not the sophistication of the embedded hardware, it's the connectivity. The Echo Dot isn't anything special (and a bit overpriced IMHO). Wifi, Bluetooth Radio, 3.5mm audio out, decent mic, speakers about as good as free swag portable speakers, etc.
It is the industry the ones who try to force that on us.
if the FTC had any sense - they should require disclosure at point of purchase.
I suppose if the streaming services I use were all compatible with e.g. ChromeCast I could use that, but until they are I'm pretty happy with the ui of the SmartTV. Most importantly, the kids can use Netflix without having their own smartphones.
I'm going to check the settings really carefully on the TV to see if I can at least maximize privzcy, but I wish there was something better such as a firewall setting I could use. Is there a guide for various manufacturers/models floating around somewhere?
In the past, Sony has picked confusing button mappings for the PS3 such that only Sony remotes worked well with it, but I haven't had a Sony device since then.
I got my dad a Roku but he didn't want it so I took it thinking I would return it but for Netflix and YouTube it's far faster than the same Samsung apps.
My plan to build a Pi 3 media box was set aside for now.
But yes wow such crap and mind games in these smart TVs when all I want is to see my video signal!
For the last two years I have had a service running that floods garbage data back to the collection point from several addresses throughout the Internet.
I'm hoping projects like Turris Omnia  will allow people to be more in control of what goes in and out of the LAN - my network, my rules.
You can likely set your ADSL modem into "bridge mode" and put a user-flashable device between that and your network. Once you get NBN you just connect the WAN port to the NBN termination box and you'll be getting DHCP from your ISP.
You might want to check if they just blocked your IP addresses and your connections are being dropped. Although if you're been running it for 2 years(!), I think you have it covered.
Just a tip: It's very easy to clean up completely garbage data from a database. Any data scientist worth their salt would do that. Getting rid of your garbage data just needs a couple lines of code. What you need to do is, skew the data so that it isn't suspicious but eventually will mess up their inferences.
I hate to get all paranoid, but it seems like every day there's news of a company's data being hacked, and what information isn't being hacked is being actively sold.
What can an average citizen do (short of living Ron Swanson-style in a cabin in the woods) to protect their privacy?
But also, giving to litigation groups that fight this sort of thing. EFF comes to mind, but I'm sure there are others.
I should think there's enough awareness of these kinds of antics in the market now that a successful company could be established soon that has the creation of honest, respectful tech as its M.O. A venture like that could be profitable AND disruptive.
I suppose to guarantee the privacy of its customers, such a company would necessarily have to have vast product offerings - or lots of like-minded partners - to compose a comprehensive landscape of services that could replace the privacy-violating services their consumers currently rely on. A sort of privacy walled-garden.
With a little bit of industry knowledge, I would posit that they made roughly the same quantum as the fine.
That type of technology alone would cost you at least $2M to build.
So either your statement is incorrect or Vizio got a terrible ROI on this (sans fine).
Just use something like pHash (e.g. https://github.com/JohannesBuchner/imagehash), screen cap the centre of the screen (say, a quarter of the screen in total) every minute, hash and then send the 8 byte hex string back to home base.
Even if you had the system up and running, you would still need to create a large database system managing 100 billion data points each day and integrate the stream of information with your customers APIs.
$2m worth of developer time going into this project is very likely. Thinking you could do this in a couple of days is simply ignorant.
Talk to your politicians. Tell them that data privacy is important. If you're in the USA lobby for something like the EU's Data Protection law (even at the constitutional level). If you're in EU, lobby for stronger data protection (no more sharing data with the USA)
I would like to know more about that process. I find it ethically abhorrent, but technically very interesting.
Like, is it grabbing, say, three pixels in constant locations across the screen and matching their color change over time? Is it examining a whole block? Is it averaging a block at some proportional location on the screen?
You can dive in from there but it's basically either watermarking or fingerprinting of video and or audio frames. Video was preferred because there were fewer false positives from music beds. In a nutshell its video Shazam
I use this for deduplicating my, er, 'home movies' collection.
EDIT: Here's a good explanation of one specific technique that should give you the general idea: http://www.hackerfactor.com/blog/?/archives/432-Looks-Like-I...
They need a source to compare too so when we worked on it masters were being sent from the network to the sync technology group. So they had source data for comparison on the first broadcast of a show.
Outside of latency there's no reason they can't match against broadcast content off cable. For user tracking they can just log the fingerprint data and compare it later to source data for analytics so this works fine.
Realistically, this would have to include evaluating things beside consumer TVs for use as living room devices, since "smart" features in consumer TVs are nearly unavoidable at this point.
Because I'm going to have to start looking into the world of commercial displays for my next TV, I guess. At least I think those don't have "smart" features. Yet?
Why buy commercial displays which usually are pretty expensive, when you can buy consumer ones and be smart about how you use it? Of course, even if they start coming with in-built wifi, just don't let them connect to anything.
First, off taking control of your own home network is crucial. Get a good router, something you can install pfSense or linux on. You'll basically have to get an NUC and learn how to manage firewalls. I suggest pfSense or just plain jane ubuntu server if you aren't very good with these systems. Then, a wifi access point can be connected to it for your wireless devices.
Prevent external network access to all the devices, and then whitelisting them (probably only your computers) is the way to go. Unless you bother to teach every one who lives in your house about the terrible things that some companies do, just block everything.
I don't think we can prevent IoT just like we couldn't stop phones. Home automation can be the best thing since mobile phone. As nuts as it sounds, you might just realize the comfort factor of having a "smart home". Just have to be careful, just like you're careful with your phones, and what they do. Read up on basic security, common exploits targeting IoT devices, etc.
Also, if you have a SmartTV, you probably need to allow it contact the internet, otherwise playing internet TV (Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, etc) is not going to work. If it can access Netflix, it can probably phone home with your data.
But, the point of having a firewall is that you can find tune the outgoing IP addresses. Sure, it'll take some time to initially allow all IP addresses for a specific devices, but it shouldn't be undoable. There are lists out there which specify which service owns which IP.
The sole point of a good firewall _is_ that it can only access Netflix and not any unwanted servers.
This is why the medical community adopted the principle of requiring informed consent. a much higher standard than "it was in the ToS" or "our business model assumes you weren't lucky enough to have the education necessary to understand why it is important to opt-out". Similar requirements need to be applied to data; if you aren't proactively informing users about precisely what will happen with their data, and making sure they understand, the user isn't making a properly informed decision.
Pretending people will understand the consequences of data collection (with modern analysis methods) when there is a decent chance they can't even read the ToS/etc is what you tell yourself to alleviate conative dissonance.
Just like uBlock solves it by making an accessible plugin and a manages blacklist, I hope someone will launch a simple appliance for home use that will manage this. The router/firewall UI would just need to provide simple switches for blocking various manufacturers' data collection.
I think you have a more optimistic view than I do, though, regarding one crucial aspect...
Why buy commercial displays which usually are
pretty expensive, when you can buy consumer ones
and be smart about how you use it?
When significant numbers of people start defeating those data collection efforts, TV manufacturers will start to take countermeasures.
These data collection activities aren't simply a thing that Vizio does to make a little extra cash on the side. Profit margins on mass-market consumer electronics like TVs are notoriously thin, and expected revenue from data collection is something that Vizio factors into their MSRPs.
You're assuming that is possible. Some system-on-a-chips have started including an integrated LTE modem.
(e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exynos#List_of_ARMv8_Exynos_So... )
> Vizio then turned that mountain of data into cash by selling consumers’ viewing histories to advertisers and others.
(or simply include the cost in the price of the TV)
Also, the data costs should be a lot lower if they negotiate for a very-lows-priority, off-hour plan that batches the data, only uploading when it is cheapest.
Doesn't work for all boards but it makes sense that for some makes and models, the screen is relatively generic and can be driven by something you can buy off of ebay.
That or source an industrial display
I think a separate device like a ChromeCast or Apple TV is a much better choice.
As if there's any human-measurable way of confirming this. Yes they can be forced by a court. And no, the court can't know if they stopped all of the software copies on all TVs and no, the court can't know if they didn't re-activate them in the future back again.
What actual proof do we have that LG actually stopped? What actual proof can we have that Vizio will stop doing this?
What Visio is doing has so little impact on privacy that it is embarrassing for our regulatory system that this is what they took action on.
With more sophisticated coding, you really do have to know what's in every outgoing packet. Perhaps it reduces down to problems similar to the discovery path of the VW Diesel emissions cheat - taking an interested hacker/researcher to examine the compliance.
Anyway, probably my paranoia, but once you see things like the original post, you start to question a lot more. At least I do.
Expected return from 'illegal' activity E = R - p * F,
where R is revenue, F is fine and p is probability of getting caught.
p < 1, so if F < R engaging in such activity is a rational, if immoral, choice.
...I hope this is just pessimism. Trust me, I do.
Never, ever, ever buy a television described as smart. For any reason at all. All of the solutions are miserably pathetic. All of the solutions are riddled with bugs, design omissions and potentially nasty security zero days. All implementations have little to no update support from major third parties.
And, in many cases from many companies, the units spy on you as aggressively as could be to sell data for marketing purposes.
"Smart" tv's are lose lose lose lose. You pay more, you get inferior software, inferior hardware and ultimately have your privacy abused.
EDIT: To be fair, I love my Vizio dumb TV I just got. 40" 1080p dumb TV for $167 inc. taxes this past black friday. Got a HDR/4K Roku for an additional $70 and this TV is beautiful and the Roku is so much impossibly better in both hardware, software and third party support than any "smart" solution ever could be, and costs far less than the "smart" upgrade!
Even the shittiest Dell boxes these days have 2 video outputs, I believe, so you can run 1 monitor + TV. Most laptops have an extra video out port too.
That way you can actually type on your keyboard when you search youtube, unlike typing with god forbid, a remote or an xbone controller (like a console peasant)
By using a $5 cable, pretty much anyone can make a TV 'Smart', and not just smart, but smarter than the ones that are marketed as such.
Because you can get 4K/HDR with regularly updated high quality third party apps like Netflix from Roku for $80 with hardware that can handle it/
But a Media PC running Windows would require you to spend several multiples of 80$ to achieve 4k/HDR with a good remote.
More work, more setup, more money, more configuration, and frankly the end result isn't better.
Easier to use your PC as a media server, then use Roku to read from the server using a remote on your couch.
Problem solved, no money spent, best of both worlds.
Many new problems:
* Gamepad costs roughly 70% the cost of any entire 4k/HDR Roku setup. A first party game pad costs $50-65 dollars, while a HD Roku costs $80.
* A gamepad is VASTLY INFERIOR to a remote. This one is very easy. Gamepads are crappy, crappy remotes. The back triggers (L2 R2) are stupidly mapped to seeking causing endless fastfoward/rewind triggering by mistake. The buttons are unintelligble (what does a Square do to my movie? What does Y do to my TV show?) and are only usable by basically the 1 geek who set it up and is unusable by all other users who have to learn custom button mappings per application
* Kodi is vastly inferior to Roku for average use, like Netflix. Users must use unsupported, buggy third party non-Netflix based Netflix add-ons which are inferior in every way to an officially distributed Netflix app. At this point, the best solution is the PAID "PlayOn" subscription service, meaning the user must pay monthly just to access basic apps like Netflix which are free monthly on Roku (outside of the actual subscription, which both methods require)
I'm sorry but Kodi is pretty crap as a home media solution, have you ever relied on it for your full library and media consumption and watched it be used by the less tech-focused people in your home? Regular users, children, elderly people?
Roku is easy for my grandfather to use. Kodi + a Xbox1 controller? Not so much
I kind of disagree about gamepads being bad remotes. The default mappings are bad and I do agree about the triggers. We don't need more than half the control to do forward and rewind. I had remapped mine, particularly to add changing subtitles and audio streams.
But: the gamepad is the control I can use without having to look at it, because it is not a matrix of similar rectangular buttons, and after a while everything is just second nature. For me, nothing is faster or more intuitive now. And the buttons are REAL solid buttons, not crappy pieces of rubber. I get frustrated when I have to use a regular remote control now.
I don't use Netflix because I'm not in the USA and in South America it honestly sucks. And they hunt and shutdown VPNs now.
However, nothing beats the price of your Roku for a new setup. That one I concede. Your setup is much cheaper. But you can't play Batman Arkham games on it :D
I think it's more pragmatic to look for a TV that suits your needs, including any tracking, advertising, etc. Some platforms let you turn it off and others don't -- e.g. Samsung's smart TVs show ads in the menus that you can't disable. I would never buy a TV like that. I just bought a Vizio recently, but I knew about their tracking software so I knew how to disable it during initial setup. Far from ideal, but I wanted a quality 4k display so I was pretty much stuck with "smart" TVs.
Also, for what it's worth, Vizio changed their "smart" platform to just be a built-in Chromecast which isn't as terrible as most smart TV platforms. I have an HTPC hooked up to my TV but 4k content is mostly limited to "approved platforms", meaning I have to use some kind of device to stream it.
IMO you and others choosing to patronize overpriced and pointless smart systems is why it is becoming harder to find.
If even the people who care don't care, then sure, they'll surcharge $100+ on every model happily.
For what it's worth, my dumb Vizio was found in a stack of 20+ at a local Target during Black Friday. They were literally stacked at the entrance to the store. I couldn't miss it. It wasn't that hard to find.
Is your dumb Vizio a 4k TV? From my research, there was not a single 4k TV from a reputable brand that did not have some "smart" features.
They're almost universally clunky and slow with horrific UI / UX choices and painfully high latency on simple things like browsing a list of files or even just registering button presses, provide fuck all useful benefit over and above the regular TV experience, are usually running some long-deprecated version of Android which is riddled with security holes that will never get patched - why does anyone actually want this?
A Raspberry Pi running OSMC is everything you could ever want out of a home media setup, it'll work with good old regular "dumb" TVs that can't invade your privacy, with an interface so simple your grandparents can use it, and can be put together for well under $50.
I have zero proof but I became paranoid recently. :(
The reasonable tradeoff would be to buy a high-quality "dumb" TV with a very good screen. At least I hope so.
All it takes is one small slip.
I'd rather never take the risk. I'll just look for a dumb huge TV; I need 65+ inches, good luck to me, right?
- Explain your data collection practices up front.
- Get consumers’ consent before you collect and share highly
specific information about their entertainment preferences.
- Make it easy for consumers to exercise options.
- Established consumer protection principles apply to new technology.
I wonder how many technical teams are scrambling to undo their spying now - though this is a fairly insubstantial fine. I could see the data being potentially worth more than $2.2m
I was thinking purely about risk/reward for other players in the market. The fine is 0.4% of the Note 7 recall cost, not including brand damage.
A fine this nominal could easily be seen as the cost of doing business - if you get caught.
Plus how is this verifiable? The fine should be a lot higher to discourage this action.
I bet the one that truly have to worry in terms of size calculated that the cost of undoing it will overweight the cost of eventual penalty, underscoring word "eventual".
I'mma be honest. I don't understand the repulsion at the possibility of corporation X knowing my personal info, (excluding the usual things like bank account info, SSNs, etc) like my location, search history, etc. To be clear, I'm 10000000% against warrantless (FISA court "warrants" excluded) government access to this information. Here's my reasoning:
Have the power to arrest and detain on a whim. Not to mention, use drone strikes.
... Don't. These entities have self-interested incentives to provide tools which are economically productive for users. For example, a smarter smartphone, whatever that may be.
Regarding Vizio, my grip is that Vizio's goal (for this product at least) is to make a profit producing TVs. So, after the TV is sold, the product is individually "finished" (not considering support stuff). So, then, what other product is the data collection for, and what does this product give me in return for my data? The answer to both is no, and not just for Vizio.
Maybe I'm naive.
The point is that you can never assume that something will only be available to certain people for certain purposes. Even if you know this at one point in time, things change.
Therefore, one must expect and demand the highest security throughout technology stacks, and implement laws to clean up whatever cannot be guaranteed by security technologies.
> Corporations ... Don't [Have the power to arrest and detain on a whim. Not to mention, use drone strikes.]
... yet. In western countries. It's not unheard of in history for corporations to have armies.
That said, the primary issue today is that once data is collected, a government entity can subpoena for it, essentially turning the thing into a user->corp->govt data pipeline. In cases where you'd be worried about serious government abuse of data, the corporate databanks are not safe from it either.
Secondly, some companies do have a way of ruining your life. Think banks and insurance companies, for example.
> [Corporations] have self-interested incentives to provide tools which are economically productive for users. For example, a smarter smartphone, whatever that may be.
No, they don't. That's the naive story you may hear about market economics in primary school. The truth is, these entities have self-interest incentives to make you pay them for shit. It doesn't matter if it's economically productive for you, or if it's economically destructive. Think cigarettes, addictive entertainment, crappy products that break quick, planned obsolescence, various marketing shenanigans they pull with telemarketers, etc. Companies make useful products only when, and only to the extent, that they sell better than useless products.
Also, based on their past actions and statements, my level of trust with them is very high that they will be transparent with their uses of that data and that they will diligently guard against that data being put to other uses that they or I didn't allow.
But what Vizio has done here makes it perfectly clear that providing any benefit to the end users was never their goal and that keeping the true nature of this program secret was an intentional act. That's enough to ensure I'll never buy a Vizio product in the future.