Technology

Your TV is spying on you, but you can stop it

Your TV is spying on you, but you can stop it

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Fun fact: The first Compaq notebook computer shipped in 1983 and cost more than $8,400 in today’s dollars. Wow, times have changed.

After all, your computer is a significant investment, and you want it to perform well for years to come. Tap or click for my five-minute fix to speed up your PC.

You don’t have to deal with these kinds of issues with your TV, but a common question I get is the best method to remove fingerprints and dust. These are the wipes I buy again and again. And these smaller wipes are perfect for glasses, phone screens and computer monitors. Love them.

Unfortunately, you have to think of tracking on your TV just like you would on a computer or phone. Read on to find out how you welcomed a spy into your living room—and what you can do about it.

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In this file photo taken on July 19, 2022, the Netflix logo is seen on a television remote control in Los Angeles.
(Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images)

Why are TVs so cheap?

Remember the time when a large flat screen TV was a total luxury?

TVs now come with loads of features and smart features, and you can buy top-of-the-line models for a fraction of the cost. What gives?

It’s all about the data. You already know that your personal information is worth big bucks. One way to stop greedy data brokers is to remove yourself from their people search sites. Tap or click for links and directions to get the job done.

Think about everything your TV knows about you and your family. These figures make up for the low cost of new TVs. Over time, this data collection recovers more money than they ever did on these sets.

Shopping for a TV? There are lots of buzzwords and marketing terms to get you to spend more. Don’t fall for it. Here’s my shopping advice on what to skip and splurge. Spoiler: Choose 4K, not 8K.

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Is it worth it? It depends

It’s hard to do much in the digital world without being tracked, monitored or monetized in some way. Some people are working hard to find ways around this, choosing to pay for extra privacy or use alternatives that focus on users rather than data mining.

Tap or click for six alternatives to Google search.

Others throw up their hands, saying it’s the price we pay for free and cheap services and devices we rely on to run our lives.

I fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, there’s a certain amount of tracking and data collection you have to swallow if you want to use anything from a smart assistant to your inbox.

But you don’t have to blindly approve every collection method. There’s a lot you can do to reclaim your privacy, as long as you’re willing to delve into your device’s settings. Here are three quick privacy fixes you can make in minutes.

When it comes to your TV, here’s where to start.

The TVs go on sale at a major store on February 8, 2022 in Chicago.

The TVs go on sale at a major store on February 8, 2022 in Chicago.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images/File)

Stop your TV from spying

Many smart TVs are equipped with cameras that most people don’t know are there. There’s not much you can do except void the device’s warranty and remove it yourself. You can cover it up, but who wants electrical tape on their TV screen?

Start with your smart TV’s tracking features — especially Automatic Content Recognition (ACR).

What is ACR and how to turn it off? This is a visual recognition feature that can identify any ad, TV show or movie you play on your TV. This includes streaming boxes, cable/broadcast TV, and even DVD and Blu-ray players.

This data is collected and used for marketing and targeted advertising purposes. If that all sounds too sinister, there are ways to turn it off. The exact methods will depend on the brand of your TV.

Vizio

On older Vizio TVs that use Vizio Internet Apps (VIA), go to the TV System and then: Reset and Admin > Smart interactivity > off.

On Vizio smart TVs that use the newer SmartCast system, go to System > Reset and Admin > View data > switch it to off.

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Samsung

On newer Samsung sets go to Settings > supports > scroll down to Terms and Conditions. Here you can reverse turned off View information services (Samsung’s ACR technology), Internet-based advertising (for personalized ad tracking) and voice recognition services.

For older Samsung Smart TVs, go to TVs Smart Hub menu > Settings > supports > searching Terms and policy > then disable SyncPlus and Marketing. You can also disable voice recognition services in this section.

Note that turning off voice recognition services on your Samsung TV will disable its voice commands.

LG

LG’s ACR technology is built into newer smart TVs running WebOS, known as LivePlus. To turn this off, go to Settings > All settings > scroll down to General > scroll down to a setting called LivePlus > switch it to off.

To limit other forms of data collection on your LG Smart TV, return to Settings > All settings > scroll down to General > About this TV > user agreements > switch Personalized advertising on off.

Got a Roku, Fire TV, Sony, TCL, or another brand? Tap or click here to see the steps to disable tracking on your TV.

Sony Bravia KD-65AF9 4K TV taken on September 19, 2018.

Sony Bravia KD-65AF9 4K TV taken on September 19, 2018.
(Olly Curtis / What Hi-Fi Magazine / Future via Getty Images)

More steps to keep your habits private

If you’re hoping to minimize the impact of big data on your viewing experience, here are some more tips to try.

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Maintain your technical knowledge

My popular podcast is called “Kim Commando today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

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Also, teenagers are self-diagnosing themselves with serious illnesses they discovered on TikTok, sleeping better with these podcasts, and signing that your phone or computer is infected with a keylogger. Oh, and men, stop putting your smartphone in your pants pocket!

Check out my Kim Commando Today Podcast on An apple, Google Podcasts, Spotifyor your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name “Komando.”

Get more technological know-how The Kim Commando Showbroadcast on 425+ radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s free 5-minute morning review for the latest security breaches and tech news. Need help? Ask your question about Kim here.

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