The Dutch consumers union Consumentenbond said most smart TVs on the market are “a risk for privacy”.
According to the union, most manufacturers follow all activity on the TV set including accessing cath-up and VOD services as well as channel changing of linear channels. This information is sent back to the manufacturers and it is not quite clear what it is used for – and with whom the information is shared.
According to the research, Panasonic and LG TV sets track the programmes viewers are watching as well as record all their searches. Sony and Philips (TPVision) are also tracking viewing behaviour, while Philips sets also track internet access, usage of TV apps and programmes that are accessed on-demand.
Before setting up a new TV set, usually a set of Terms & Conditions is presented to the consumer. Most people will just click on the ‘OK’ button without actually reading the texts, said the Consumentenbond. It is not always easy to read the texts, who are usually long and complicated for a layman.
According to research by the union, Samsung TV presents 57 pages consisting of 5,000 words. “Only Sony TVs tell exactly what is happening in six pages of text.”
Dutch privacy law requires that manufacturers have to properly inform customers what kind of data they are collecting, who is collecting with what purpose and with whom the data are shared.
The law also stipulates that consumers must have access to the data, and must be able to withdraw their consent at a later stage. According to the union, the manufacturers are too vague in informing their customers and in most cases are not complying with the law.
“Consumers have the right to know what manufacturers are doing with the data they collect and they should be able to withdraw their consent,” according to the union.
Earlier thi year, the Belgian Privacycommissie started investigating aspects of privacy concerning smart TVs and set-top boxes from Telenet and Belgacom TV. In the UK LG Smart TVs werd found spying on viewers, while in The Netherlands TP Vision (Philips TVs) had to act on actions by the Dutch privacy watchdog.
The full text (in Dutch ) of the report by the Consumentenbond can be found in its website.