How To Turn off Your Viewing Tracking On Smart TV

Date: 2017-02-24   Clicked: 3756

    We watch our televisions, and in many cases our televisions watch us back. That's the backdrop to the news this week that some manufacturers have agreed to settle charges that it violated the law by using software in its "smart," internet-connected TVs to collect data on what users were watching, without permission. Most smart TVs collect data about what you watch and send it to manufacturers. Here's how to turn off your tracking.

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    The software told some manufacturers what consumers were playing on their TVs, whether it came from broadcast or cable channels, streaming services, DVD players, or other sources. The company also collected data on users' WiFi networks and mobile devices that were linked wirelessly to the televisions. (Our colleagues at the Consumerist have more details.)  

    Other makers of internet-connected TVs, including Samsung and LG, track their users' viewing habits, too. But unlike some manufacturers, those companies require people to nominally agree to the practice by clicking OK to a privacy policy during setup. 

Consumer Reports has been writing about this technology, which is often called automatic content recognition (ACR), since 2015, and since then it has only become more widespread.
    Like the details of what you like on Facebook or search using Google, information collected by TV makers can be sold to big data brokers who compile consumer information for sale to marketers.
ACR data also can be harnessed to target television viewers with specific ads—a practice that consumers are used to on the web but that's just getting started in the television world.
    In a statement emailed to Consumer Reports, some manufacturers sought to clarify its actions.
    "The ACR program never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise," some manufacturers wrote. "Instead, as the Complaint notes, the practices challenged by the government related only to the use of viewing data in the ‘aggregate’ to create summary reports measuring viewing audiences or behaviors."

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