Uninformed opinion of the day: TiVo Privacy

Charles Cooper, a cnet editor, is apparently surprised that his Tivo collects data on his viewing habits.

Holy Peeping Tom, Batman. Was it that Orwellian? Maybe I need to become more of a fussbudget, but the fact is that TiVo-philes knew–or should have known–what they were getting into when they first unwrapped their digital video recorders. The user agreement that comes with the product discloses the company’s data-gathering practices.

So — Tivo makes it quite clear that they collect anonymous data and even have that question in their FAQs and provides a phone number to opt out.

TiVo does collect Anonymous Viewing Information; that is, information about viewing choices made while using your DVR, but that does not identify you as an individual or household. In other words, there is no personally identifiable information associated with the viewing information that could identify the viewing information as coming from you or your household. TiVo also collects Diagnostic Information from a small number of randomly sampled DVRs for quality control purposes. If you don’t want even your Anonymous Viewing Information or Diagnostic Information used in any way, simply tell us by calling our toll free number (1-877-367-8486).

So what’s the big deal exactly? I think its good that Tivo is reporting aggregate stats to media executives that make programming decisions. Hopefully, that means that the shows I like will stay on the air and there will be more like them.