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Technology Smart TVs are data-collecting machines, new study shows

17:10  11 october  2019
17:10  11 october  2019 Source:   theverge.com

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A new study from Princeton University shows just how pervasive this tracking has become. Add smart TVs to the growing list of home appliances guilty of surveilling people’s movements. A new study from Princeton University shows internet-connected TVs , which allow people to stream Netflix

A new study from Consumer Reports has found that millions of popular smart TVs can be accessed by unsophisticated hackers. Consumer Reports analyzed two characteristics of the televisions featured in the study : their data collecting tendencies and hackers' ability to access the machines .

Add smart TVs to the growing list of home appliances guilty of surveilling people’s movements. A new study from Princeton University shows internet-connected TVs, which allow people to stream Netflix and Hulu, are loaded with data-hungry trackers.

  Smart TVs are data-collecting machines, new study shows

“If you use a device such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV, there are numerous companies that can build up a fairly comprehensive picture of what you’re watching,” Arvind Narayanan, associate professor of computer science at Princeton, wrote in an email to The Verge. “There’s very little oversight or awareness of their practices, including where that data is being sold.”

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The data that could be collected includes viewing habits and an approximate location. When it comes to splashing out on a brand-spanking- new set you might be pleasantly surprised by the price The data collected can include viewing habits, such as which shows and adverts you watch, as well

Smart TVs represent the lion’s share of new televisions . According to market research firm IHS Markit, 69 percent of all new sets But that functionality comes with substantial data collection . Smart TVs can identify every show you watch using a technology called automatic content recognition, or ACR

Of course, data is part of the reason TVs have gotten so cheap. Today, Roku’s sell for less than $200, subsidized in part by targeted advertising. Technically, people agree to have their data sold when they set up their devices. But many aren’t aware it’s even happening.

Technically, people agree to have their data sold when they set up their devices

That’s true for other smart home technology, too. In a different study, researchers at Northeastern University looked at 81 smart home devices and found that some, including Amazon’s Ring doorbell and Alexa, and the Zmodo doorbell, monitor when a user talks or moves, even when they’re not using the device. “The app used to set up the [Ring] device does not warn the user that the doorbell performs such recording in real time, the doorbell offers no indication that recording is occurring, and the only disclosure is in fine print as part of the privacy policy,” the paper says.

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There's no reason smart TVs can't be great. But first they need to evolve into something we'd So they cynically turned " Smart TV " into a platform for unwelcome data collection and intrusive The company has since tried to walk this back, saying the data is only being collected when you're

Are the TVs collecting data about usage of the TV ? That I can say with a 99% certainty YES! This is used to understand what functions of the TVs are However streaming services e.g. often track some of your data , it is how they recommend new shows to watch but I wouldn't consider that data to be

To understand how much surveillance is taking place on smart TVs, Narayanan and his co-author Hooman Mohajeri Moghaddam built a bot that automatically installed thousands of channels on their Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. It then mimicked human behavior by browsing and watching videos. As soon as it ran into an ad, it would track what data was being collected behind the scenes.

Some of the information, like device type, city, and state, is hardly unique to one user. But other data, like the device serial number, Wi-Fi network, and advertising ID, could be used to pinpoint an individual. “This gives them a more complete picture of who you are,” said Moghaddam. He noted that some channels even sent unencrypted email addresses and video titles to the trackers.

The study found trackers on 69 percent of Roku channels and 89 percent of Amazon Fire channels

In total, the study found trackers on 69 percent of Roku channels and 89 percent of Amazon Fire channels. “Some of these are well known, such as Google, while many others are relatively obscure companies that most of us have never heard of,” Narayanan said. Google’s ad service DoubleClick was found on 97 percent of Roku channels.

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Smart TVs collect viewing data . Consumer Reports shows you how to shut off TV snooping on all Smart TVs are sets that connect to the internet, making it easy to stream videos from services such as In a recent study , researchers at Northeastern University and Imperial College London looked at

“Like other publishers, smart TV app developers can use Google’s ad services to show ads against their content, and we’ve helped design industry guidelines for this that enable a privacy-safe experience for users,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Verge. “Depending on the user’s preferences, the developer may share data with Google that’s similar to data used for ads in mobile apps or on the web.”

Both Roku and Amazon Fire allow users to turn off targeted advertising. But doing so only stops a user’s advertising ID from being tracked — not the other uniquely identifiable information.

“Better privacy controls would certainly help, but they are ultimately band-aids,” Narayanan said. “The business model of targeted advertising on TVs is incompatible with privacy, and we need to confront that reality. To maximize revenue, platforms based on ad targeting will likely turn to data mining and algorithmic personalization/persuasion to keep people glued to the screen as long as possible.”

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