Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

How to Keep Your Smart TV from Collecting Data about You

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

How to Keep Your Smart TV from Collecting Data about You

Article excerpt

Smart televisions can collect more information about you than you think. That's a lesson that resurfaced this week when TV-maker Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle government charges that its TVs collected their owners' information without their knowledge. But the truth is, Vizio is not the only TV maker that's getting a look at its users' habits. Broadly speaking, the tracking technology at play here was "automated content recognition which, as one may guess from the name, lets companies figure out what kind of content is playing on a television. Many consumers may have agreed to this sort of collection in sweeping "terms and conditions agreements without realizing it. If you're not interested in sharing this information with manufacturers, there are some steps you can take.

The easiest - but most drastic - way to disable your television's tracking is to disconnect it from the internet. But that prevents the use of features that probably drew you to a smart television in the first place, such as the ability to watch a streaming video service on your big screen. If you don't want to give those up, it's time to visit your settings.

After this week's settlement, Vizio said its users are no longer automatically opted-in to the automated content recognition setting and that any information it collected before March 1, 2016, will be deleted. But if you're not sure whether your television is affected, you can head into your settings to see for yourself.

Per Vizio's website, this is the way to do that on its latest televisions:

1. Press the MENU button on your TV's remote or open HDTV Settings app.

2. Select System.

3. Select Reset & Admin.

4. Highlight Smart Interactivity.

Sets made before 2011 should already have the feature turned off. Some of those older TVs have a slightly different process to turn off data collection; the Smart Interactivity feature is its own section in the general settings menu. …

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