On Feb. 6, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Hagley Tsukayama, Vizio has been using its smart TVs to watch people watching and has been collecting data from cable, broadband, DVDs and other streaming devices. Apparently, they have linked demographic data i.e., gender, age, income and have been selling it to companies that target specific groups for advertising. Vizio, claimed that it never matched data with anything that would identify an individual, but used the information to measure audiences and their behaviors. As part of the settlement, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered Visio to pay $1.5 million to the Federal Trade Commission and delete all data collected before March 2016.

Now Vizio, along with any other company that uses similar devices to collect data, has to make sure that its methods and policies are clearly and prominently displayed. It’s not illegal for companies to collect this type of data — if they tell you!

In 2015, it was noted that Samsung had been using its smart TVs to listen in on people who were watching programs and sending the information back to various companies. While you had to read it closely, Samsung’s sets did come with a privacy policy that allowed them to do so.

More “fine print” that needs to be carefully read!

Now to a totally different topic — dripping!

Apparently, it is no longer sufficient to simply use the new e-cigarettes as they were designed and intended. Gosh no Sparky, let’s modify them to get thicker and perhaps more flavorful vapors and oh, by the way, possibly increased levels of nicotine and carcinogens like formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

As designed, the e-cigarettes heat a liquid and turn it into vapor that is inhaled. It does this by slowly releasing the liquid from a wick onto a hot atomizer. Dripping does away with the wick and a person drops the liquid directly onto the heat source. Since the liquid is applied directly, it will be consumed more rapidly and the process will need to be repeated in order to maintain that level of vapor.

The dangers/benefits, both long and short term, have yet to be definitively determined, but it may be that our young smokers who, historically are known to test any limits, may bear the brunt of any effects dripping may inflict. Proponents and opponents of dripping are passionate about their beliefs and will cite data to support their positions. Arguments similar to having one smoke an e-cigarette versus a real cigarette are rampant as are those who cite “vaping” is a gateway to real cigarettes.

An article in WebMD cites Michael Felberbaum, a Federal Drug Administration spokesperson who noted that between 2009 and early 2016 there were 134 reports of e-cigarettes overheating, catching fire or exploding. Can you imagine having one in your mouth when — ka-boom?

As a former smoker, my opinion is that nothing should go into your lungs but fresh air!

Remember: Think, Prepare and Execute crime prevention designs. Don’t become a crime victim.

Walt Candelari is a Dickinson Police Officer. He is writing a series of columns on creating a safe environment.

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