Here's How to Stop Your Smart TV from Reporting Back Everything You Watch
VIZIO got caught, but nearly all smart TVs collect and share some kind of information about you
Earlier this week, television manufacturer VIZIO agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges that it installed software on its TVs for the purpose of collecting viewing data from 11 million TVs without the user's knowledge or consent.
The crucial part of the issue is "without consent," since nearly all smart TVs collect and share some kind of data about users. Now many consumers are asking if there is a way to prevent this.
Fortunately, there is generally some way to opt out of having all or at least some of your personal information collected or reported. However, the method depends on the manufacturer.
The controls for VIZIO's TVs have changed over time. When you want to prevent these TVs from gathering and sharing your information, the key is to look for the "Smart Interactivity" feature.
On new sets that use the SmartCast app, you have to use your mobile app to disable it. Follow these steps to do so:
- Open the VIZIO app
- Go to Settings
- Choose "Reset & Admin"
- Disable "Smart Interactivity" using the slider
On older sets that do not use SmartCast, the process is similar, but you do it on the TV itself.
- Either press "Menu" on your remote or use the controls on the set to navigate to Settings
- Select "System"
- Select "Reset & Admin"
- Highlight "Smart Interactivity"
- Press the right arrow to disable the feature
Like VIZIO's, the controls for Samsung sets have changed as time has passed. On new models, do the following:
- Open the main menu and choose "Settings"
- Look for "Support"
- Scroll to "Terms & Policies"
- At this point you can separately accept or reject the terms for "Viewing Information Services," "Voice Recognition Services," and "Nuance Voice Recognition and Privacy Notices"
- Then disable "Internet-Based Advertising"
According to Consumer Reports, opting out of voice-related services will limit your ability to control your TV using your voice (which sends your voice commands to a third-party vendor). However, there will be no noticeable effects if you opt out of "Viewing Information Services."
Regarding older Samsung models:
- Open the Smart Hub menu
- Choose "Settings"
- Select "Support"
- Find the "Terms & Policy" sub-menu
- Select "SyncPlus and Marketing," then disable this feature.
Again, voice control will be disabled when you turn off Voice Recognition Services.
On LG models manufactured from 2015 onward and running webOS:
- On the main menu, select "Settings"
- Scroll down and choose "General"
- Choose "About this TV"
- Select "User Agreements"
- You can then choose to agree to or opt out of "Viewing Information," "Personal Advertising," and "Voice Information"
As with Samsung, your ability to control the set with your voice will be limited if you disable Voice Information, but disabling the other features will not produce any noticeable changes.
For LG models produced before 2014:
- Go to "Settings"
- Select "Options"
- Find and disable "LivePlus"