TechIt "watches" you. Your TV can spy on you

It "watches" you. Your TV can spy on you

The television is spying on you.
The television is spying on you.
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ed. KBN

7:29 PM EDT, October 14, 2023

Watching television seems like a harmless pastime. However, as televisions become "smart," they gain the ability to "watch" their owner. Smart TVs gather data, which is later sold to advertisers and data brokers.

"The television is no longer just a device for displaying content - it has become a two-way mirror that allows for real-time observation of the user through a network of advertisers and data brokers," said Rowenna Fielding, director of the consulting firm Miss IG Geek specialising in data protection, in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian.

"The aim of this is to collect as much information as possible about your behavior, interests, preferences, and demographic data so that it can be monetized, mainly through targeted advertising" - the expert explained.

Now the TV is watching you

Theoretically, most smart TVs are capable of collecting audio, video, and usage data. Voice activation is one function that can gather the most data. Microphones and software, while listening for commands, can record conversations and other sounds within their range. These recordings can be sent to third parties for analysis.

Data collected through Smart TVs becomes even more valuable when it is connected with other smart devices such as smartphones or laptops. "This allows for a detailed profiling of individuals: the TV data can be combined with geolocation history, web browsing activity, and social media information," Fielding points out.

Spying applications in Smart TV

This in addition includes cookies and trackers. Applications and browsers in smart TVs, similar to websites, use cookie and pixel tracking technology for user profiling. "Most applications installed on a Smart TV will report back to a large network of advertisers and data brokers," warns the expert.

One of the most disconcerting features to pay attention to is Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). This feature - often enabled by default - uses analytical techniques to identify the image and sound on a television, comparing them to a large database to determine what is being played. Viewing data and habits are later shared with the manufacturers and ultimately sold to advertisers to target ads to the user.

Protect yourself from spying

Smart TVs, as long as they are connected to the internet, will collect data and it's impossible to completely prevent this. However, there are some basic measures that can be taken to protect against spying by Smart TVs.

Turning off ACR in settings, limiting personalization, opting out of all advertising features, and covering or turning off the camera and microphone will certainly help. However, you have to bear in mind that the device will lose some functionality.

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