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Is TV spying on us? How to control your privacy settings

Modern Smart TVs spy on user habits. Let’s find out how they do it and what to do to avoid the collection of personal data

Spy TV

Smart TVs are televisions capable of connecting to the Internet (via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable) and thus providing new multimedia functions, such as multimedia apps, access to Internet sites and viewing content without going through the signal of the digital terrestrial or satellite. What many users don’t know is that Smart TVs also have features for monitor user behaviorthus spying on everything we see on the TV, including the use of apps and the type of content viewed (TV series, film or TV channel).

Discovering how do Smart TVs monitor user habitswe can, in part or entirely, prevent being spied onturning off some simple settings found on virtually all modern TVs.

READ ALSO -> What does Smart TV mean, what are the advantages and disadvantages

1) How Smart TVs spy on users

Starting from the assumption that Smart TVs with webcams have now fallen into disuse (too easy to hack them and see everything we did), the only effective method with which smart TVs spy on users has a very precise name: ACR.

ACR is the acronym for Automatic Content Recognition and it is a “ghost” pixel always active on Smart TVs capable of capturing everything that passes on the screen when active. This pixel analyzes the type of content viewed (including the use of external devices such as consoles or satellite receivers) and collects it in a special advertising cookie.

This cookie is used by the Smart TV manufacturer to profile users and thus provide targeted advertising, as well as being able to provide external advertising networks with information on what we do every time the TV is turned on.

The use of systems for make the IP address anonymous they are not useful in this case, because the code associated with our television is unique and easily identifiable by the manufacturer, who will therefore always be able to spy on us as long as the ACR function is active.

2) Disable the ACR function on LG TVs

If we have an LG Smart TV we can deactivate the ACR function by pressing the gear icon on the remote control, taking us to the menu All settings and finally taking us to the menu General.

Within this menu we deactivate the switch next to the item Live Plus, associated precisely with the ACR function. After deactivating this item, the ghost pixel will be deactivated and we will no longer be monitored on the Smart TV.

To strengthen the user’s privacy when using an LG television, let’s also go to the menu General -> Announcement and we activate the voice Limit AD trackingthus making the collection of data associated with the television less effective.

3) Disable the ACR function on Samsung TVs

If, however, we have a Samsung Smart TV we can deactivate the ACR function by taking us along the route Settings -> Support -> Terms and Conditions.

From this section we can see all the privacy policies of the South Korean company. To proceed we deactivate the voices Display of information services, Interest-based advertising e Speech recognition servicesthus obtaining greater privacy at the expense of some functions (for example we will no longer be able to use voice commands).

4) Disable the ACR function on Sony TVs

On Sony TVs we can deactivate the ACR function in two different ways, based on the type of operating system present inside the TV.

On televisions with Android TV we can deactivate ACR by taking us to the route Settings –> Initial configurationcomplying with Sony’s privacy policy but disabling the voice Samba TV.

Alternatively we can deactivate the tracking function by taking us along the route Settings -> About -> Ads and turning off the voice Ad customization.

5) Disable the ACR function on Android TVs

All owners of smart televisions with Android TV or Google TV can deactivate ACR by moving to the gear icon (or menu Settings), by selecting the menu Privacytaking us into the menu Usage and diagnostics and deactivating the switch on the right side of the screen.

This item will deactivate any form of active tracking on the screen, while leaving the Google cookie active, which cannot be deactivated as long as you use a Google account associated with the television. For further information we can read the guide above How to disable Google location tracking.

Conclusions

The ACR function is decidedly harmful to users’ privacy: as long as it is active (and by default it is always active on any modern television) we will be sure that our modern television spies on uscollecting information on what we do when we turn on the TV, including the programs and TV series we watch, without forgetting the apps we use.

Always on modern Smart TVs we will also have to deactivate HbbTV, another function that spies on users by showing advertisements. To be on the safe side we can also connect a Fire TV Stick to the TV and add a VPN, as seen in the guide best VPN apps for Fire TV Stick.

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