Study Shows That Smart TVs May Be Collecting User Data

Published on January 7, 2020
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Smart TVs have become a wonderful addition to many people’s home. Having endless options in what you want to watch after a stressful day seems like the best thing ever, right? According to a new study from Princeton University, you may want to think about it a little bit more. The study shows that TVs connected to the internet give companies the ability to track your information.

Smart TVs May Track User Data

Smart TVs May Track User Data

The study says:

“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.”

Part of the reason that smart TVs and streaming devices are so inexpensive is due to the data that is shared. For example, Roku streaming devices cost just under $200 because they’re partly subsidized by targeted ads. Therefore, someone who purchases the device, while setting it up, is agreeing to give out their data to be sold — yet many people are not even aware of this at all.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

Another study, done at Northeastern University, found that the Ring Doorbell, which is an Amazon product, monitors when users are moving or talking, without indicating that it is happening. The study says, “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 study also found that 89% of Amazon Fire channels and 69% of Roku channels had trackers. It shared: “Some of these are well known, such as Google, while many others are relatively obscure companies that most of us have never heard of.”

Roku Streaming Device

Roku Streaming Device