What the Tech? Are Smart TVs watching you?

(ABC 6 News) – Smart TVs are a real bargain these days and prices keep dropping. Despite TV’s getting better with more functionality, brighter pictures, and more features, prices for some TVs have dropped in price. Why? The reason is also the answer to the question “are smart TVs spying on us?”

In a manner of speaking, smart TVs do watch us while we watch TV. But not how you might think. Most TVs do not have cameras with the exception of many SAMSUNG models. But, even those sets aren’t actually watching you through the cameras.

The reason prices have dropped is that manufacturers can sell TVs at a loss because of “post-purchase monetization.” That means manufacturers continue to earn revenue for as long as you own and use the TV.

Smart TVs track what people are watching, how long they watch programs, movies, and sporting events. They even what they search for with the remotes.

Let’s say you watch a lot of sports. Manufacturers share that information with advertisers who can target sports fans with specific ads they’re likely interested in. Since the ads target a specific audience, those ads are more valuable and can be sold at a higher price.

Before you worry too much, the information gathered is not tied to a person’s name. If you’re not using a VPN to hide your IP address, it could be tied to every computer, device. That includes the TV connected to your home’s WiFi and internet connection.

That makes it very possible that an advertiser could target you with ads based on what you watch on TV. It’s all about gathering information to sell targeted ads to people interested in what the advertiser is selling.

If that is too much information being shared for your comfort, you can turn off data collection on many TVs. Go into your TV settings and look for “privacy”, then turn off “data tracking”, or turn on “limit tracking”. The exact language is going to vary from one TV brand to the other.

Unplug the TV from the internet that will prevent any information being gathered and shared. But your TV will lose all functionality of a smart TV and cannot connect to any streaming service.

To find out if your TV has a camera, consult the user’s manual.