How to outsmart your 'smart' TV and avoid sharing personal data
These steps can stop your smart TV or streaming player from collecting data like what streaming services you use, what shows you watch and when you're watching.
Smart TVs are great for using the internet to stream your favorite shows on Netflix, Hulu and more, but what you may not know is that they are also gathering personal data about your viewing habits.
NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen spoke with Consumer Reports' director of product testing, Maria Rerecich, on TODAY Thursday about steps you can take to outsmart your smart TV and limit the amount of personal data it collects.
Those who use devices like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku or Google Chromecast on older TVs also need to be aware that, just like smart TVs, those streaming players also track personal data such as what streaming services you use, what shows you watch, when you're watching and for how long.
Your smart TV and those devices use that information for analytics, marketing and targeted advertising, and also can share that data with countless third-party firms, according to their terms of service.
Many smart TVs use automatic content recognition, or ACR, which Rerecich said is a technology that allows the TV to identify what you're watching, regardless of whether it's through a streaming service, the antenna, your DVR or even DVD players.
"I don't think people are aware of it,'' Rerecich said. "I don't think people are aware they can actually do something about it."
Rerecich demonstrated the following steps you can take to protect your personal data on various smart devices.
- Go to "settings."
- Then go to "support."
- Scroll to "terms and policy."
- Navigate to "viewing information services."
- Uncheck the part that says "I agree," which will stop it from monitoring what you're watching.
- Then navigate to "interest-based advertisements service privacy notice" and turn it off. This prevents targeted ads.
- Go to "settings" on the homescreen.
- Go to "privacy."
- Then click on "advertising" and then check "limit ad-tracking."
- Go back to the previous screen and select "smart TV experience."
- Uncheck "use information for TV inputs," which disables the smart TV's ACR technology.
Amazon Fire TV
- Go to "settings."
- Go to "preferences"
- Then "privacy settings."
- Under "privacy settings," turn off "device usage data," which prevents using your data for personal marketing purposes.
- Also disable "collect app and over the air usage" and "interest-based ads."