Privacy Alert – Smart TVs Are Listening and Watching You

smart tvs

The convergence of television and computer technologies has given rise to smart TVs, introducing advanced features that normal television sets can’t deliver. Features such as voice recognition, built-in cameras, gesture control and facial recognition are only possible with a smart TV. But as impressive as these features sound, TV manufacturers may be using them to collect data and invade consumer privacy.

Case in point: most if not all smart TVs made by Samsung come with a voice recognition feature. Per the company’s privacy policy, voice commands along with other pertinent information are transmitted to a third-party service provider when the user activates the feature. Any personal or sensitive information that has been recorded along with the commands are transmitted as well. Samsung’s smart TVs listen for and collect everything, and the company’s privacy policy doesn’t fully explain what it does with the collected information beyond feature evaluation and command analysis purposes.

Owners of Samsung smart TVs should also be wary of using SyncPlus. As stated in the privacy policy, information regarding watching habits–be it on movies, TV shows and online video streaming–are also transmitted to the third-party providers.

It’s not just Samsung that’s reportedly intruding the privacy of consumers; LG and Vizio extract data from users as well. They’re in collaboration with third-party companies to analyze and monetize viewing habits. Such practice is believed to have been going since 2012.

To be fair, smart TV manufacturers let users opt out of these services if they’re concerned with possible privacy intrusions. The problem is, when the smart TVs display the terms of agreement, users are overwhelmed with a lot of information. Who’d want to read more than 30 screens of pure text? Unknowing consumers would just hit agree, not aware that they’re actually allowing their TVs to pry into their private lives.