FOX43 Finds Out: Is your smart TV watching you?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARRISBURG, Pa --In today's fast-paced world, we sometimes want our technology to know what we're thinking.
smart TVs are a step closer to that.

Those televisions have application software that let them do more than just change a channel- like connect to the internet, apps or even your phone.

Andrew hacker, a cyber security expert at Harrisburg University, says those TVs also keep track of your viewing habits.

"What you were clicking, what channels you were watching, how long you watch them."

You would hope that information is just used for your benefit to recommend new tv shows, movies or even products you might be interested in, instead of padding the companies wallets.

"They are keepers of your information so they should be protecting it," said Hacker.

Hacker says that's not always the case.

Vizio was recently hit with charges for tracking that information on 11 million TVs and selling it without the viewer's agreement.

Hacker says "The fact that they were actually selling that information to the highest bidder"

Hacker thinks the technology is so advanced in many of the smart tv series that it can pinpoint exactly what you're watching and when down to the second.

"What you're watching, what you're doing at a certain time of the day, whether you're there, whether you're at work whatever, it could be used to harm you."

There is a way to shut off the tv's tracking.

It works through the automated content recognition or ACR.

However, if you opt out of that feature your smart tv- might not be able to do all it's intended too.

"You might be trading some special feature for that tracking piece."

Some of our FOX43 viewers are in the 11 million who bought thVizio TVs prior to the consent agreement.

Ben Burkhart from Myerstown says "We have 3 Vizio smart TVs and I could care less if they know when I'm watching football or the news for data. It's not like they have cameras spying on you. They are just collecting data on viewing habits. I'm sure Comcast/Direct-tv has this info anyway, what's different if the tv manufacturer has it?"

Samantha Hanzel from Carlise says "Wo then what about the consumers who used the smart TVs during that time?? Are they being compensated for the intrusion? Happy I bought our tv after March of 2016. And just bought our 2nd a couple weeks ago."

Meanwhile, Hacker says Vizio isn't the first company to do this and likely won't be the last.

"Is it going to stop? No. Until some technology that comes out that gives everyone what they want."

Harrisburg University is working on something called smart data.

The goal is to provide those patterns to companies and advertisers that want to use it, but still protect privacy.

They're trying to develop that technology now.


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.