December 2, 2016

Even your TV can Spy on You

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:

Is your TV Spying on You?

Samsung Smart TV a Spy in the Living Room as Webcam Hack Revealed

LG Admits Its Smart TVs Collected Info, Promises Fix So Customers Can Actually Opt Out

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.

 

7 Comments on Even your TV can Spy on You

  1. I think Orwell is shaking his head at us nowadays. Another thing that spies on you is the XBOX Kinect, the wife and I had gotten one for family games, only to find out the not only does it see you and track your movement, it also has a microphone in it that can record your conversations. The kinect now sits in a box near the TV and rarely ever gets hooked up, and the XBOX disconnected from the internet if it does get used. It’s a creepy thought that someone could easily be watching your family in their living room from something you bought for entertainment purposes.

    • Hi Pierce, We don’t have a very old XBox, but I did hear the new ones do track you. It really is creepy entertainment devices can do this. Thanks for the comment.

    • Hi Chuck, only the computer is connected now. No more TV/internet connection for me. Thanks for the comment.

  2. This is a great article! Thank you for sharing it!

    It’s a growing concern, and it’s everywhere. Now that big business (and the government) realizes just how much information can be drawn from “big data” and the context of our usage patterns within that data, there’s no turning back.

    Google “Target knew a girl was pregnant” for a real eye opener on just how much people can discern.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Survival Prepper Joe, So much data being collected about everyone, from a lot of sources – rewards cards, credit cards, social media, websites visited etc – no wonder Target knew the girl was pregnant before her family did! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Hi AptPrepper,

    You’re absolutely right. And data brokers pull all that “anonymous” info together to make a nice little picture for each of us.

    Just for fun (or not), checkout the Bluekai registry to see what they’ve got on you.

    http://bluekai.com/registry/

    I wrote an article Scott Kelley published on his Graywolf Survival site about the impact all this data mining has, and what to do about it, if you’re curious how deep the creepy data-hole goes:

    http://graywolfsurvival.com/3378/two-free-tools-increase-opsec/

    And there might be an article on my site about using TOR most effectively. 😉

    Thanks again for writing this post! We’ve got to look out for each other!!

    Best,
    Joe

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