This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
It’s bad enough that our smart phone can track us, but I found out something even more creepy than that: your TV can actually spy on you. The TV is so common and unnoticed, it is present in most homes, with some households having them in nearly every room.
First, a quick story… I was loading an exercise DVD into the DVD player and I turned on the TV. As soon as I turned it on, a message popped up on top of the TV screen that said “software update installing” I wondered about it as this was completely unrelated to what I was doing. I told Mr. Apt Prepper about it (he’s more tech oriented) and he said it’s because we have a “smart TV.” and it has software updates, just like a computer.
They are called “smart TVs” because they can connect to the internet, allowing you to browse and stream for shows as well as visit such sites as Twitter, Facebook, Skype, YouTube etc.
Although I have not used the TV to access websites, this got me thinking about the implications. If your computer activities can be tracked, then it follows that the same thing would apply to the TV – I started reading up on the subject and what I found out confirmed my fears.
What is being tracked?
At the most basic level, your browsing and viewing habits can be tracked, allowing advertisers to know your preferences, and thus tailor the ads to you.
However, because of this feature, EVERYTHING that is viewed on that very same TV can also be tracked and transmitted elsewhere – such as your personal family photos, videos of your birthday celebrations etc. Even if the source of the material viewed is an outside source such as a flash drive, the information will be collected and tracked.
Even worse, a hacker can add just a few lines of code, and turn the camera toward you, watching your every move.
And you can’t just cover the camera with a piece of duct tape because it is within the TV itself. I know… I looked for it. If the TV can be used to Skype, then it does have a camera somewhere.
From what I have read, there is no “off switch” Even if you opt out, the tracking can still be done, although LG, the company that was discovered doing this says they will disable the feature.
Here are a couple of articles for more information:
What are the options to prevent data from being collected?
- Look through all your TV’s options and read the Privacy and Terms of Service.
- Opt out of anything having to do with collection of viewing information. Every TV is different so the menu options will be different.
- Don’t connect the TV to the internet.
- Don’t buy a smart TV.
Just as the smart phone offers a lot of advantages, so do the smart TVs, along with the tracking that comes with it. More and more, these convenient features comes with a price: our privacy. Only you can decide if you are willing to pay the price.