In light of the recent case against Vizio for spying on customers through Smart TVs., an article by Consumer Reports offers several steps for stopping your smart TV from spying on you with automatic content recognition. These steps work with television models from Vizio, Samsung and LG. Here’s how to stop the surveillance and protect your privacy.
If a smart TV manufacturer wants to track your viewing habits, they are supposed to ask your permission first. But Vizio turned tracking on without explicit permission. The technology, called automatic content recognition (ACR), finds out what content you’re playing and sells it to big data brokers, who then share it with marketers.
Vizio TV Models
Since almost all Vizio TVs use the SmartCast system powered by Google, you’ll have to download the Vizio app onto your smartphone to control these settings. In that app into Settings > Reset & Admin. Use the slider button on the screen to turn it off.
Older Vizio models and D-series TV sets use the Vizio Internet Apps platform, so the process is slightly different. In the Vizio app, go to Settings > Reset & Admin. Highlight Smart Interactivity and press the right arrow to disable it.
Samsung TV Models
In newer Samsung models, click the Settings icon in the main menu, then look for Support. Under Support, scroll down to Terms & Policies. You’ll see several options, like Viewing Information Services, Voice Recognition Services, Nuance Voice Recognition, and Privacy Notices. You can choose not to accept any of these. Next, disable internet-based advertising in the same place.
Note that if you turn off the voice functions, your voice interaction with the TV will be affected, but if you just turn off viewing information services, cvoice-control won’t be affected.
On older Samsung models, you’ll find the ACR controls in the Smart Hub menu. Go to Settings > Support > Terms & Policy. Select SyncPlus and Marketing, and disable the feature. If you choose to disable Voice Recognition Services, your voice commands won’t be sent to a third-party for processing.
LG TV Models
In the newer webOS models, go in the main menu and select Settings > General. Look for the submenu called About This TV. Click on User Agreements and you’ll see three options: Viewing Information, Personal Advertising and Voice Information. You can opt out of all of them.
On older LG TV models, go to Settings > Options > LivePlus. Then turn it off.
Consumer Reports mentions that even with ACR turned off, the smart TV manufacturers still collect certain non-identifying information from your TV. The companies claim this is needed to provide basic TV functions. But at least you can disable most of the surveillance.