Targeted advertising is big business, and you are the product. You might be used to this online, but what if your smart TV was snooping on you and using that to serve you ads? Well, that’s exactly what could be happening.
When you agree to your smart TV’s T&Cs, did you know you could be giving permission for the manufacturer to track what you watch? Is this an invasion of your privacy?
Smart TV spying: the story so far
I’ve nothing against smart TVs. As Which?’s TV reviewer for, I buy, test and recommend plenty of them each year. However, our investigation has found that smart TVs can track you every time you change channel, press a button on the remote or visit a website using the browser.
This can give you more personalised recommendations for things to watch, but your data could also be used to provide targeted advertising on your smart TV’s homescreen.
Some TVs allow you to block tracking, but this can result in stripped back smart TV features that are almost unusable. In some cases we found that if you disagreed with the TV’s T&Cs you couldn’t even access the apps and web browser on your TV.
Plus, if you’re unhappy with TV tracking you could struggle to return it to the shop, as this could be viewed by the retailer as a moral objection, rather than a fault covered by your statutory rights.
Too smart for their own good
I think smart TVs have become too smart for their own good. Manufacturers should keep tracking to a minimum, be 100% transparent about what they’re doing, and give you options to opt out that don’t mean you lose significant features.
Taking this one step further, should you be able to choose whether ads are displayed on your smart TV homescreen? After all, you don’t want them popping up on your PC’s desktop or on your smartphone home screen, so why should a TV be any different?
Do you think that smart TVs tracking what you do is a worrying development, or are you happy to accept this if you get more personalised services?