The snitch in your lounge: Your TV is spying on you
Smart TVs can track what millions of viewers are watching and send the information to marketers
Smart TVs are monitoring what people watch to send targeted ads to other devices in their homes, it has emerged.
TV manufacturers such as Sharp, Toshiba, Sony and Philips agreed to insert technology into the operating devices of their smart TVs to track what people are watching on their devices and any other connected to their TVs, The New York Times reported.
The Samba TV software is installed on televisions before they are bought and viewers are prompted to install it when they first set their screens up.
Samba TV’s software can capture information on what adverts, programmes, channels and genres people are watching through their TVs. It can then use this to target adverts at viewers, either within their TV’s operating system or on other computers and smartphones around their house.
The company also claims to be able to monitor viewing habits using a smartphone’s microphone, listening to what is on nearby television sets.David Kitchen, a London-based software developer, discovered the software on his Sony television before raising concerns. “Samba is not a feature for you, it is a snitch in your living room, snitching on everything you watch on your TV,” he wrote online.
Consumer protection watchdogs have long pointed to smart TVs as a way that manufacturers can earn money by snooping on consumer habits.
The consumer association Which? began an investigation in 2014 after an IT consultant found that his LG smart TV was tracking everything about him and his family. He was shocked to find his children’s names had been sent unencrypted over the Internet to LG’s servers – taken from a family video he’d made at Christmas and then watched on the TV.
Fears that smart TVs could be watching their owners first arose in 2015 when one of Samsung’s privacy policies warned that all voice recognition data would be passed to a third party. “Be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your voice recognition,” it said.Smart TV maker Vizio was fined $2.2-million in 2017 after the US consumer watchdog discovered the company had been tracking viewers without asking for permission.
Vizio gathered “as many as 100 billion data points a day from millions of TVs”.
- © The Daily Telegraph