Is your smart TV spying on you?

By Mike Atherton 06 Feb 2018

The short answer is yes, probably, but that doesn't mean someone's snooping on you through your TV when you settle down to watch a movie - it just means manufacturers like to collect usage data to improve their products and services.  

With more of our kit being connected to the internet than ever before, privacy and security has become a serious concern for many of us – and rightly so.  

But just how concerned should you be?


Some manufacturers have openly stated that their smart TVs do collect information which is stored on company servers. This data can include online behaviour, searches, and viewing habits, and it's difficult to tell exactly what data they do collect. 

Some TVs also include microphones and cameras for making video calls and using virtual assistants, but some experts have raised concerns about just how secure these features are, and whether it's possible to hack into your network and gain access to these functions. 

In truth, all manufacturers and operating systems collect data differently. For example, all newer Sony TVs use Android, which belongs to Google, and Google likes to gather as much data from its users as possible. Manufacturers do need to ask before they collect and store information about you, and you'll always be asked whether you're happy to share this information when you go through the initial setup. But to be able to use all of their services, you'll usually need to hit the 'Agree' option. 

How to make sure your TV isn't spying on you


The only sure-fire way to make sure your smart TV isn't collecting data about you is to turn off the network capability, so the question you need to ask yourself is; do you actually use those smart functions on your TV? If the answer's no, why not just disconnect it from your network? 

There are lots of connected devices that we use with our TVs to give us all those smart functions without the need for your TV to be connected as well. For example, if you use an Amazon Fire TV stick, you'll probably be able to get all the same apps on that, as you can on your TV. Lots of set-top boxes also offer similar features. 

If you want to prevent your smart TV from connecting to the internet altogether, just go into the settings, look for the network features and turn off Wi-Fi. If you're not sure where this option is, you might need to check the user manual for your particular model. 

Make sure the software is up to date


If you don't want to disconnect your TV altogether, the next best thing is to make sure the software is up to date. 

This is something most smartphone users will be familiar with - now and then you'll get a notification telling you that an update is available. As well as performance tweaks and other enhancements, these updates usually include additional security settings to make sure your kit is secure. 

Smart TVs are no different. Automatic updates on TVs are usually less frequent than on smartphones, but they're just as important, so always make sure you choose the option to run the update. If you're not sure whether an update is available you can check this in the settings, the location of this option in the menu differs depending on the make and model of your TV, so if you're struggling to find it, you'll need to check the user manual. 

Hopefully, this has given you a bit more to think about when it comes to prying eyes, and ears. If you need help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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