All smart TVs are watching you back, but Vizio's spyware never blinks


Perhaps not your dishwasher, or your stove. But a TV that can connect to streaming video sites is mildly useful, given a decent interface,


As mentioned already, a TV is a pretty reasonable thing to be a network device, so saying ‘there’s no reason’ is pretty disingenuous - there clearly is a reason, just not for you. That’s like me saying 'why do TVs have Coax inputs? There’s no reason for that, because I don’t personally use cable!"

But aside from that I mostly agree - it’s bad that Vizio is doing this and it’s good for consumers to know about it. Your fridge and toaster probably don’t need to be ethernet enabled or have internet connectivity unless there’s a compelling reason for them to do so. Painting the HDMI ethernet spec as a ‘conspiracy’ is fucking loony though, which is why I went on a bit of a tear there. This is a configuration, like anything else in your technology is as well, and it’s good for it to be easy to use and simple, as long as it’s configurable.

Take for example, my living room. I have multiple gaming consoles, a media center PC, and a TV. If I could eliminate the ethernet from all that and do it over HDMI instead, I’d jump at the chance because it’d be both a cost and pain savings for me, but it’s not something that all my stuff supports so it’s not an option for me, but it’s clearly a winning proposition for many people. If I were concerned about one of my devices having internet connectivity, I would be a responsible consumer and configure it appropriately or deny it access.


I find it both much cheaper and easier to make RJ45 ethernet cables than HDMI!


Well, that’s certainly true. :smile: Although with monoprice it’s not like hdmi is that expensive.


I have no doubt that the actual spec meeting was utterly banal, and boring as hell; because such is the nature of industry standardization processes.

That said, I stand by the tone of my post: ‘smart’ TVs and TV-related apparatus have been so relentlessly hostile, and very sneaky about it, since the quaint days of old when Tivos still required a telephone line to phone home; and Tivo more or less inadvertently told everyone that they were, in fact, watching what you were watching by reporting that the ‘nipple slip’ was the most-rewound event in television history; that it is both difficult and arguably unwise to view improvements in connectivity(especially the autoconfiguring flavor) as anything less than glorified side-channels.

It’s easy to treat technological improvements as neutral or positive in the abstract; but when the most eager adopters of a given technology are your enemies; it’s a great deal harder to be optimistic about it. So far, I’ve not seen a single thing that would make me want it to be more difficult to determine which device in an HDMI-connected stack is the one phoning home.


Question - is the TV just taking screenshots of whatever is on and sending it back to Vizio, or does it have a way of distinguishing which inputs are “shows”? Doesn’t seem like a TV would have smarts enough to hold a database of every single show on TV at that time and available on Netflix so it could identify them.

To put another way - if I have my computer hooked up to it, is it also sending back screencaps of all the documents I work on? The emails I write? If you put porn in the DVD player is it sending back screencaps of that? Watching which games you play on the Xbox?

To my mind there’s a big difference between “identifying which TV shows you’re watching” and just sending back screencaps of everything you do. They’re both privacy violations, but significant matters of degree. Since the TV is capable of doing this I should just probably just assume it is, but I think people would care more if it was the latter.


Can hardly wait for the inevitable “rest of the story”, where we found out just how wrong this report is. You know, just like the “keystroke logger” that Boing Boing reported was part of Windows 10, or the one about smart TVs listening and reporting on everything you say (both completely false, by the way). Still waiting on the retractions…


It’s alright, man, there’s plenty of forest to go live in where the scary technology can’t get you.


You can, apparently, opt-out, which I will do forthwith.

Good to know! I think that info should be in the OP.


[quote=“popobawa4u, post:17, topic:69039”]
Within a few years, maybe you will finding yourself using an open source television[/quote]

Or a few weeks… I just ordered one of these.


Well, I was thinking about open source hardware, but that’s a nice start.

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