One of the most convenient pieces of technology today is a smart TV. The idea makes a lot of sense since it combines a set-top box, a computer, and television all in one. Now, if you think rationally, have you ever wondered why smart TVs are getting so cheap? You can get a top of the line smart TV for as little as $700.
That is not at all expensive for an always-connected experience. But why is it so cheap? As The Washington Post’s Geoffrey Fowler says, “It’s the data, stupid.”
Your smart TVs have been vacuuming your data straight out of your living rooms for the sake of target-marketing. The controversy has been making rounds on the internet for a while now, however, the most recent scandal is regarding Samba TV, an app included in smart TVs made by Sony, TCL, Philips, and other major manufacturers. The application uses Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) and says that it delivers “essential TV insights.”
In a recent report, the NY Times says that the application collects data on 13.5 million TV viewers under the claims of “making personalized show recommendation”. The company has allegedly signed deals with a dozen TV makers including Sony, Sharp, Magnavox, Toshiba, and Philips.
Backed by Research
The fact that smart TVs spy on their users is backed by a number of studies. Recently, researchers from Princeton and the University of Chicago tested more than 2000 channels on the Roku set-top box and Amazon Fire TV and found out that almost all the channels were sending data to Google, Amazon, Facebook and other ad networks.
Another study carried out by a team of researchers from Northeastern University and Imperial College London found out that Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Samsung smart TVs, and LG smart TVs send all collected data to Netflix even if the users don’t have Netflix installed.
Some of the companies like Samsung and Vizio even use a Shazam-like feature for videos to find out what you are watching. The data is then sent to different servers.
No Option to Turn it Off
These smart TVs come with options to turn the data collection off however, it is only an illusion. The TV makers have settings that allow you to adjust the amount of data collected, but they are pretty ineffective and don’t stop the TV from sending out the data. The only way to prevent this is by never connecting your smart TV to the internet, which voids the purpose of having a smart TV in the first place.