Wales

Smart TVs

Smart TVs (also known as Connected TVs) integrate television with the internet. When connected to the internet, they enable you to search and find videos, movies, photos and other content on the web by interacting via your remote control – or with some models via your smartphone or tablet. Therefore you can search the internet, access social media and use apps like Netflix, Skype and YouTube without having to switch between devices. Some also have a built-in webcam.

Some smart TVs also have the ability to monitor and analyse your usage history, data which is used to make recommendations for programmes and content you may like.

The risks

  • Connection to your Wi-Fi means that your smart TV could be accessed without your authorisation, leading to:
    • Your viewing, browsing and other usage history being seen and used against you for illegal purposes.
    • Your viewing, browsing and other usage history being seen and used to target you with advertising messages.
    • Being targeted with instant advertising messages based precisely on what you are doing whilst in front of the smart TV.
    • Your smart TV’s webcam and microphone (if fitted) being hijacked to view/eavesdrop on your and your family, or to find out what possessions you have.
    • Access to information, photos and other data on storage devices (such as USB sticks) connected to your smart TV.
    • Your smart TV becoming part of a botnet, commonly used to attack corporate or government websites.

Protecting your privacy

  • Quite simply, if you do not wish to risk your usage habits being monitored, disconnect your smart TV from the internet. This will mean, however, that you will not be able to use its online features.
  • If you are concerned only about your webcam and/or microphone being hijacked, simply cover them with opaque tape or a sticky note. The function which enables you to control your TV from your movements will also be disabled.

 

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A Glossary of terms used in this article:

USB

Universal Serial Bus: a means of physically connecting computers and peripherals such as external storage, keyboards and MP3 players.