Stopping your Smart TV from harvesting your Personal Data: A TV is no longer just a device that’s shows you content, it’s a two way mirror allowing the user to be observed in real time by a network of advertiser and data brokers. To gather as much information as possible about your behaviour, interests, preferences and demographics so it can be monetized mainly through targeted advertising, and its difficult to avoid. A study dome by imperial College London found data from a Smart TV and other Smart Devices was sent to Google ad-business and to Netflix, even if people did not have Netflix. Most Apps installed on your Smart TV will be snitching to a large network of advertiser and data brokers. The purpose of this is to gather as much information as possible about your behaviour, interests, preferences and demographics so it can be monetised, mainly through targeted advertising.”. There is no clear cut answer as to what is done with the data, its highly opaque, and is unclear why the data is being harvested and where its being sent.
There is not much difference between TV brands. Manufacturers claim to use your information for “personalisation” and quality of content, but it is common to sell this type of data, anonymised or semi-anonymised, to third parties, advertising companies or streaming services. “After the data has been sold, it is out of the manufacturer’s control,” Using ‘streaming services’ on a Smart TV is another sure-fire way of handing over lots of your personal data. Apps such as Netflix, Amazon, Prime and Now TV tend to claim they only use data for necessary services such as recommendations or credit checks, but this can include data such as device identifiers, geo-location, browser type, email address and payment information. Netflix has powerful recommendations that algorithms fuel by helping users to choose which shows to watch. If you log onto Netflix via your browser you can tweak the privacy settings to limit the data that’s collected and shared, you can opt out of this.
AUTOMATIC CONTENT RECOGNITION (ACR): Is a scary feature when you purchased you TV its usually turned on to default settings this uses analytical techniques to identify videos and audio running on the TV, matching it against a big database to identify whats being played.
ACR: Works on anything played on the TV including DVDs and Blu-rays, CDs and games The viewing of data and habits are shared with manufacturers and ultimately sold to advertiser in order to target you with adds. When your TV is connected to your home router data will include your IP Address and location (Source-Jake Moore. Global Cybersecurity Advisor at a Security Company ‘ESET’). ACR can be used for unsettling profiling, as it has analytical technologies availability, data from facial recognition, sentiment analysis, speech to text & content analysis these can be gathered to build an in depth picture of an individual user.
Instead of matching content against a list of movies, ACR could in theory be analysed for political position, ethnicity, socio-economics position etc., highly abusive in the wrong hands.
Using the browser on your TV lacks the antivirus and additional security settings built into your smartphone or PC. Cyber attackers can eavesdrop on the browsers traffic and compromise the cookies that manage authentication to online services such as social media accounts or online banking, and impersonate people (Source: Senior Lecturer at De Montford University’s Cyber Security Centre. Leicester)
“Cyber-attackers can eavesdrop on the browser’s traffic and compromise the cookies that manage authentication to online services, such as social media accounts or online banking, and impersonate people,” says Dr Francisco Navarro, a senior lecturer at De Montfort University’s Cyber Security Centre in Leicester.
If you use your smart phone as a TV remote be mindful that connecting to a Smart TV with a mobile will be done via Bluetooth or across the network therefore “if the Smart TV was hacked it might be used to attack your mobile device, the risk is low” (Source: James Griffiths. Co-Founder and Technical Director at Cyber Security Associates) Smart TV’s will collect Data and you cannot stop this from happening altogether
By connecting to the internet you cannot stop the TV from collecting data altogether. If you dumb your TV down too much it will affect your viewing experience, therefore its important to know say Netflix features, knowing there are some basic measurements you can take to protect yourself from Smart TV spying. Turn off ACR in the settings, disable ‘personalisation, opt-out of all advertising features and cover or disable camera’s and microphones. Make sure your Router is protected by changing the password. Yet there are some basic measures you can take to protect yourself from smart TV spying. Turn off ACR in the settings, disable personalisation, opt out of all advertising features and cover or disable cameras and microphones. You can improve security by opting out of ‘web tracking’ when its offered and applying software updates as soon as they are available.
Remember that Smart TV’s collect data about what you watch with a technology called ‘Automatic Content Recognition” or ACR. You cannot stop all data collection without disconnecting the set from the internet, but you can turn off ACR on many models of Smart TVs. Note that Smart TVs may use another name for ‘ACR’ and the controls can be hard to find. Smart TVs are ‘Smart’ you may not be aware of it but your Smart TV knows, shares a lot of information about you.
The streaming apps on your TV set may collect data on you, even if you never sign in. And your Smart TV will also collect information for its manufacturer, possibly including your location which apps open more and more. These companies can also capture voice when you use the mic on a Smart TV Remote, and collect data about you from outside companies
Smart TVs may contain a camera, which can be found on the top edge of the TV. These TVs may also include microphones or collect viewing data. The options to turn off each of these features typically reside in the settings menu. Consumers can find the camera on a Smart TV by looking for a circle where the lens is situated, typically at the top edge of the TV. By putting the camera on the top of the screen, brands ensure that the camera can see the user, who will presumably sit directly in front of the TV.
The Microphone On The Smart TV: May use your voice control to gather more information about you as a viewer. Many brands state that they do not save this information on the server, however someone nefarious can easily hack the microphone as they would a camera.
Most TVs with camera’s do not include an indicator to show the camera is on. Some Smart TVs have a microphone symbol that shows on the TV when its listening, others may have an indicator light. If your TV is listening through the microphone it will typically respond to the users command.
RESEARCHED LINKS: By Carol Sakey. https://wakeupnz.org
https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/how-to-turn-off-smart-tv-snooping-features/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIhKiR39IK0 https://money.cnn.com/2015/02/09/technology/security/samsung-smart-tv-privacy/index.htmlr https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/09/18/you-watch-tv-your-tv-watches-back/
https://www.komando.com/trch-tips/stop-smart-tv-tracking/544540/ Tutorials point- How to stop your Smart TV from spying on you https://www.tutorialapoint.com/how-to-stop-your-smart-tv-from-spying-on-you
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