HYDERABAD: Smart TV is the in-thing for upmarket households in the city and shockingly, there are no guidelines nor regulations in place to limit the user data being collected by these smart devices. The TVs are priced such that a 43-inch-TV comes for just Rs 33,000 and a 49-inch-machine, of any reputed brand, comes for around Rs 55,000. And digest this: a 32-inch smart TV recently launched by Xiaomi costs `12,000. It may be mentioned here that the market potential for these smart devices is huge.
Just like any smartphone, these TVs use applications that connect to the internet for providing certain services to users. They also collect information on viewers and their habits, often sharing them with their affiliates worldwide for targeted advertising.
In 2017, WikiLeaks obtained documents that showed how the American foreign intelligence service — Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — was found to be using Smart TVs as a surveillance tool. The same year Samsung and Vizio, both, were accused of collecting customer data for targeted advertising without the consent of the user.
“Everyone is now buying Smart TV as they are heavy on features. The prices too are within affordable range and can be bought on EMIs,” said Naved Ahmed, a sales executive at Bajaj Electronics at Panjagutta, Hyderabad. “There are mainly three manufacturers who are leading the market in sales LG, Samsung and Sony. There is a lot of enquiry about the cheaper Xiaomi Mi Smart TV from China,” he added.
How smart is your smart TV
Your Smart TV can identify every show you watch using a technology these TV sets use called Automatic Content Recognition (ACR). The technique is used for recommending other TV shows that you might be interested in viewing. However, the very same technique is used for targeting advertisements to users.
All Smart TVs come with built-in internet TV service provider applications such as Yupp TV, Sling TV, Ditto TV, Fetch TV among others. The pre-installed app varies with manufacturer.
What about your consent?
The user generally gives consent to the terms and conditions either at the time of setting up the Smart TV or when they subscribe to the individual app service, and neither the manufacturer nor the service provider takes responsibility for the user information being used by third parties or their affiliates.
The Data (Privacy and Protection) Bill, 2017, introduced as a Private Members Bill in 2017, proposes to streamline user data protection by setting up a Data Privacy and Protection Agency.
The agency, if and when it comes into existence, is to act as a “regulator and adjudicator of disputes that arise from the act itself and will also have the power to initiate suo moto action against a data processor or controller, according to the draft bill. The rules of the draft bill are presently being framed by the BN Srikrishna Committee, and are expected to submit their report to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology by May 2018.
In India, Smart TV’s are expected to have a market worth 9 billion dollars by the end of 2012, according to a report by TechSci Research in February 2018
All Smart TVs come with built-in internet TV service provider applications such as Yupp TV, Sling TV, Ditto TV, Fetch TV among others
These companies store, use, transfer, disclose and/or process users personal information by installing cookies in the Smart TV’s browser or by allowing third parties or their affiliates
to do so
How to save yourself from
While the manufacturers can track your viewing habits, you can turn it off. Here are a few ways to turn of tracking on some popular Smart TV sets:
Can be turned off manually depending on the model. If the model is using SmartCast system powered by Google, you will have to download another app “The Vizio app” to your smartphone to take control of TV settings. For older models, try resetting admin rights
Go to settings and look for “Support” option, under which the “Terms and Policies” will be listed. The options section will allow you to disable internet-based advertising. Doing so may turn off voice functions and voice interaction features of the Smart TV
In case of WebOS models, go to settings and look for a submenu called “About This TV”. Under the “User Agreements” you can turn off of the three options that are provided such as, viewing information, personal advertising and voice information