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Smart TVs know—and share—what you’re watching

If you own—or plan to own, or plan to give as a gift—a “smart TV” from LG, Samsung, or Vizio, are you aware that these sets share your viewing data with third parties? If not, you should be—even if you’re a very ‘open’ person, the amount of data collected and shared by these sets is quite scary.

For example, Samsung Smart TVs collect the following data:

Information about content that you have watched, purchased, downloaded, or streamed through Samsung applications on your SmartTV or other devices; Information about applications you have accessed through the SmartTV panels; Information about your clicks on the “Like,” “Dislike,” “Watch Now,” and other buttons on your SmartTV; The query terms you enter into SmartTV search features, including when you search for particular video content; and Other SmartTV usage and device information, including, but not limited to, IP address, information stored in cookies and similar technologies, information that identifies your hardware or software configuration, browser information, and the page(s) you request.

Vizio isn’t much better; here’s what their sets collect:

For VIZIO televisions that have Smart Interactivity enabled, VIZIO will collect data related to publicly available content displayed on your television, such as the identity of your broadcast, cable, or satellite television provider, and the television programs and commercials viewed (including time, date, channel, and whether you view them live or at a later time).

And while I couldn’t find LG’s privacy policy, it’s been caught spying on users.

All three manufacturers ship their sets with data sharing enabled, but it’s relatively easy to disable on all three brands. Consumer Reports provides clear instructions for all three companies; unless you really enjoy sharing your viewing habits with unknown third parties, I suggest you disable these onerous data collection tools in your smart TV.

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