• Smart TV owners unaware that technology can collect, share info about viewers

    By: Christine Swartz

    Updated:

    Forty-six million American households now have a Smart TV, but many owners are not aware that the technology has the ability to collect and share a lot of information about its viewers.

    "We have grown up with TVs that we watch, not ones that watch us," Brandon Minster, a visiting associate professor of economics at the University of North Florida, said. "It's going to take a generation or so until we think about things that way."

    Most of the information is collected by technology called "automated content recognition" or ACR.

     

    It tracks what you watch on broadcast, cable and streaming services, sending you relevant ads and recommendations about shows you may like. But the information can also be shared.

    “There have been studies that show these devices in some cases are watching what you're watching, and conveying that back to the manufacturer,” Northeastern University professor David Choffnes told Boston 25 News this fall.

    In 2017, Vizio paid $2.2 million to settle cases with the Federal Trade Commission for collecting viewers data without consent.  

    Many users today give consent when they’re setting up their Smart TV’s, quickly clicking "OK" to each agreement.

    But it's not too late to shut the tracking technology off. 

    >>RELATED: New menu app developed in Boston brings technology to the table

    You can simply not hook up your TV to the internet, but that may defeat the purpose of the Smart TV.

    Long-time TV repairman Johnny Crews says you should be selective, and “opt out” of any app with tracking technology.

    Each brand of TV has a different way of shutting off ACR, and Consumer Reports has extensive instructions on turning off ACR for your TV, which can be found by clicking here.

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