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Can TVs Record You?

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Can TVs Record You?

The advancements in technology have also given rise to a number of theories pertaining to the extent of their involvement in our lives and many other privacy concerns. Some theories suggest that TVs can actually record you.

These theories may not all be wrong. After all, modern smart TVs can actually record you and provide your data to different companies. What the obtained data then gets used for cannot be determined.

In this article, we will break this theory down into more detail and figure out whether there is any truth to it. Read below to find out more.

Can TVs Record You?

The risks associated with a smart TV are the same as those associated with any other smart device you use, like your smartphone. This is because of the addition of newer technologies to the TV, such as a microphone and camera. Your smart TV can most certainly record you, and what this data is used for cannot be said for sure. 

In particular, most smart TVs use a technology called “Automatic Content Recognition.” This allows the manufacturer to receive extensive data about what you watch, how you watch it, when you watch it, etc. This information is then either sent out to third parties or used for personalizing the content. However, most experts can agree that it cannot be said for sure what exactly happens with the data once it is obtained. Once the information is sent to a third party, it is well understood that the data is out of the manufacturer’s control from that point on.

As a matter of fact, manufacturers like Samsung openly state in their privacy policies that their smart TVs may be recording information like what you say and sending it to third-party organizations for the purpose of transcription.

What is ACR?

Automated content recognition (ACR) is a terrifying new feature. This feature, which is frequently enabled by default, employs algorithms to recognize video and audio playing on the TV and then compares the results to a massive database to determine exactly what is being broadcast. It’s fairly spooky that ACR can decipher dialogue from any media played on a TV, including movies, TV shows, music CDs, and video games.

Manufacturers share these viewing statistics and habits with advertisers, who then use that information to target you with ads. The data will also contain your IP address and location when you connect your TV to your home router.

More unpleasant profiling is theoretically possible with ACR. Data from many sources, such as facial recognition, sentiment analysis, speech-to-text, and content analysis, combined with the current analytical tools, might paint a detailed portrait of a single person.

ACR may be misused if it were analyzed for political stance, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other factors instead of just matching text against a list of known movies.

How Do TVs Record You?

Your smart TV may or may not collect personal information, depending on the model, maker, and software. Most modern smart TVs may, in theory, record user data relating to audio, video, and TV viewing habits.

Features like voice activation can collect a lot of information about users. Microphones and associated software are actively scanning the area for commands and recording anything audible. It’s possible that these recordings will be shared with others for research purposes.

There’s also the problem of tracking across many devices. When paired with data from other smart devices like smartphones, laptops, and home automation devices, the data acquired by your smart TV becomes much more valuable. With the addition of geo-location data, internet surfing history, and social media information to TV viewing habits, detailed profiles of individuals can be easily constructed.

Cookies and other tracking tools are another issue. To monitor, recognize, and identify devices for user profiling, apps and browsing platforms on smart TVs use cookie- and pixel-tracking technologies similar to how websites do. The vast majority of apps you download for your smart TV will report back to a vast web of advertisers and data brokers.

How to Stop TV From Recording You

Disabling ACR technology, blocking built-in cameras, and turning off built-in microphones can prevent your smart TV from recording you. With these three measures in place, you can rest assured that your smart home is safe and secure. 

You can prevent your Samsung, Vizio, LG, or Sony smart TV from recording you by following these steps.

  • Learn how to set limits on your smart TV’s functions. Begin with a standard web search using your TV’s model number alongside the terms “microphone,” “camera,” or “privacy.” You may, for instance, look for “LG smart TV 55LA8600 privacy.”
  • Don’t rely on the system’s default protections. If you can, switch passwords and find out how to turn off recording and other tracking features to protect your privacy. If you can’t, maybe it’s time to upgrade your set.
  • DIY camera concealment options include covering the lens with black tape or thick cardboard, a technique even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg employs. If you can’t find the recording device but know it’s present since your TV has built-in video calling, you can black out the display by opening a video chat app (like Skype) and moving the cardboard around.
  • Find out if the maker of your smart TV provides any security updates. Have they already released fixes to address security issues? If it is an option, you should enable automatic software upgrades on all of your smart devices.
  • Make sure you read the smart TV manufacturer’s and your preferred streaming service’s privacy policies. Where does the data go, how is it used, and what kind of data are they collecting? Many streaming services, like Samsung, detail information like this in their privacy policies so that their users can make an informed choice when purchasing a device.

Conclusion

In conclusion, yes, your TV can record you and obtain different kinds of data from your environment. However, if you take the appropriate steps, you can make sure that your data is not obtained against your will.