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Senators Ask FTC to Investigate Smart TV Privacy Issue

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Do you own a smart TV? Have you noticed your advertising experience getting better? If so, you might be curious about the work of two United States senators. Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal recently sent a letter to the FTC requesting that the agency look into potential Smart TV privacy issues.

Fortunately, none of the alleged issues have to do with Smart TVs actively monitoring people insider their homes a la big brother, rather, it's a bit more subtle of a privacy violation. According to the senators, internet connected Smart TVs (rather than traditional cable or satellite services) have more leeway in collecting and sharing data about their users' TV watching habits, and aren't regulated like traditional television providers, and have been taking advantage of that fact. The senators are hoping to get a little more insight on this issue.

Between Consenting TVs

While using any internet connected device these days seems to require some level of privacy intrusion, lawmakers seem to coming around to the idea that device users should have a say in whether and how their data can be used. One particular concern is that users not be forced to divulge private or sensitive information in order to access the core functionality of a device or service.

As reported by Ars Technica, the senators told the FTC "smart TVs can compile detailed profiles about users' preferences and characteristics ... Recent reports even suggest that smart TVs can identify users' political affiliations based on whether they watch conservative or liberal media outlets."

The senators are requesting the FTC to investigate smart TVs and devices, and specifically called out Samba TV, which it explains has an opt out procedure, but that it is not sufficiently described to the users.

A Better Ad Experience?

Though some people may be up in arms about their television viewing habits, or anything else about them for that matter, being monitored in order to provide them with better, more targeted advertising, some people actually appreciate it. After all, if you're going to be stuck watching ads, wouldn't you at least want them to be about something you might actually be interested in?

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