Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020
(NBC) -- Millions of smart TV's were sold over the holiday season and it's easy to see why - they're cheaper than ever. But that bargain comes with a price.
They're a big-ticket item for millions of people, and nearly every TV sold these days is a smart TV. That means you can stream everything from Netflix to YouTube, Hulu to Disney Plus. If you're not using a smart TV, you might plug in one of these: an Amazon Firestick, Roku or Google Chromecast.
But all these devices are grabbing a lot of information about you - what streaming services you use, what shows you watch when you're watching, and how long even your voice.
According to their terms of service, those smart devices use that information for a range of reasons including: Analytics, marketing and targeted advertising. They can share that data with countless third party firms.
Consumer reports director of product testing Maria Rerecich says your smart TV is monitoring what you do and what you watch. She says many smart TVs use what's called "ACR" or "Automatic Content Recognition," the tech that helps TVs identify what you're watching.
So what can you do?
Maria shows me the steps on a Samsung.
"On [a Samsung], we would go down to settings, we would then have to go down to support, go over to terms and policy. We want to go to viewing information services. And then there's this 'I Agree'. We're going to uncheck that."
That tells your TV to stop monitoring what you're watching.
Next, look for 'interest-based advertisements service privacy notice'.
"You can also turn off the ability to get targeted ads."
Others, like Roku, are not as complicated.
"From the home screen, we go down to settings, we go over to privacy. Go to advertising, now in this one, limit ad-tracking. So we want to check it. And then smart TV experience, we want to uncheck that."
Another popular device? Amazon Fire TV. Go to settings, preferences, privacy settings and 'device usage data'. Finally, disable 'collect app and over the air usage' and 'interest-based ads'.
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