Smart TV's Can Spy on You

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They're watching what you're watching. (KFSN)

When you sit down to watch television, you probably don't imagine that your TV is also watching you. But Consumer Reports says that new models of some popular brands of smart TV's can record and share information about everything you watch.

It's likely you don't think you've invited a spy into your home when setting up a new TV. But certain Samsungs can record and share everything that's viewed, whether it's a broadcast or streaming from the internet. And some smart TV's can even track what DVD you're watching. Glenn Derene of Consumer Reports explains, "Your viewing habits are valuable information for marketers who might want to use that to recommend new shows, offer extra content on shows you're already watching, or serve up customized advertising."

The ads are primarily pop-ups like the ones you see on your computer. You may not realize that you allowed this data collection when you agreed to the lengthy privacy policy during setup. Forty-seven screens of text with Samsung. LG and Vizio also ask you to sign away your privacy in thousands of words in fine print. When people find out what they're asked to agree to, many are upset. They told Consumer Reports: "I think it is a modern day Peeping Tom," "Makes me very uncomfortable," and "I don't like it. It, you know, invades privacy."

When Consumer Reports emailed the manufacturers to ask how they are using the technology, spokespeople for Samsung and Vizio didn't comment. An LG spokesperson said it isn't using any data to serve personalized ads and has no current plans to do so.

But Consumer Reports says that could change at any time. Glenn Derene of Consumer Reports says, "You might think, well why don't I just turn these marketing features off? Well, it's not always so easy. To do so, you have to fight your way through menu settings."

On the LG set, go to settings, then options, then "live plus", click "off," then close. With Vizio, it's a voyage through three menus to turn off the box "smart interactivity." With Samsung, a similar trip to find the box "syncplus and marketing," and disable it. Consumer Reports says that disabling the marketing feature may cause you to lose offers of extra scenes or commentary related to the shows you're watching. But that may be a small price to pay for knowing that what you're watching remains private.

Additional information on stopping your smart TV from tracking you is available here.
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