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Smart TV Privacy: What You Need to Know

Jackie here. Do you have a smart TV? These high tech devices are certainly convenient, but they raise a few privacy issues too. Samsung recently came under fire for a liberal privacy policy that warned users not to discuss sensitive information around their TVs. These devices have the potential to gather a great deal of user information. Who benefits? And what can you do to keep your family’s privacy safe? Today, let’s take a deeper look at the smart TV.

What Do Smart TVs Gather?

Smart TVs collect and send data about all of your watching habits to various third parties. This can help to personalize your viewing experience. Your TV knows what you like to watch and can recommend new shows. This data can also be used to personalize your advertising experience, showing you ads that are more relevant, and more interesting. But, this information isn’t just helpful to the consumer. It is also highly valuable for companies.

Smart TVs gather information about your viewing patterns, and not just what you stream over the internet. The technology is known as automatic content recognition (ACR) and gathers information about everything you view. They can tell what DVDs you’re watching, what television programs you’re watching, what you view on YouTube, and what you do on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. This information can be sold to television companies to determine ratings, used for advertising to target specific shows and products, and to improve and change services offered by the TV. Some ads even allow viewers to purchase recommended products directly from their remote controls.

If your set has voice command enabled, your device may also inadvertently capture anything you say around it, transmitting this information to various information gathering companies.

What Can You Do?

What are your options for protecting your privacy when you have a smart TV? The first and one of the most important is to remain educated about your device and the permissions you’ve given it. Many smart TVs have pages upon pages of privacy policy, making it hard to read the whole thing. It is a good idea to carefully analyze your policies and to opt out when possible if things concern you.

Many of the controversial services, including voice commands and ACR, can disabled if you find the right section and follow the process. This can be difficult, but if something makes you uncomfortable, take the time to find out how to disable these services. Consult your TV manufacturer for specifics on opting out on your device.

If your TV is smart, you’ve got to be smarter. Know what you’re sharing and make an informed decision about protecting your privacy.

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