Smart TVs or Internet-connected TVs are used as data-collecting machines new study shows

TCL Roku TV

Smart or Internet-connected Smart TVs are now added to the list of home appliances that are being used by data miners to collect data from users. A new study by Princeton University, USA shows that the internet-connected TVs that allow people to watch YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime like services are filled with data-keen trackers.

Arvind Narayanan, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University says that in an e-mail to The Verge that “If you use a device such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV, there are numerous companies that can build up a fairly comprehensive picture of what you’re watching,”. “There’s very little oversight or awareness of their practices, including where that data is being sold.” he added.

We all have been noticing that the prices of Smart TVs are falling hard which makes it easy to buy Smart TVs and as you set up your device your data is being sold some are aware of it but a large number of users are not.

Asst. Professor Arvind Narayanan and his co-author Hooman Mohajeri Moghaddam built a bot that automatically installed thousands of channels on their Roku and Amazon Fire TVs, mimicking human behavior by browsing and watching videos. As soon as it ran into the ad, it was able to detect what data was being collected behind the scenes.

They found that not just the information like device type, city, and state is collected to pinpoint an individual other data like the device serial number, Wi-Fi network, and advertising ID was also collected by the trackers. They also found that some channels even sent unencrypted email addresses and video titles to the trackers.

Their study found that trackers on 69 percent of Roku channels and 89 percent of Amazon Fire channels. Google’s ad service DoubleClick was found on 97 percent of Roku channels.

In a different study by researchers at the Northeastern University looked at 81 Smart Home appliances and found that some, including Amazon’s Ring doorbell and Alexa, and the Zmodo doorbell, monitor when a user talks or moves, even when they’re not using the device.

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