Two American senators have called for the American FTC to investigate smart TV privacy policies. According to senators Blumenthal and Markey, smart TVs have ushered a new era of innovation and interaction, but the technological advancement should not come at the expense of privacy.
Both senators note that many internet connected smart TVs have technology onboard that allows the manufacturers to track what the user watches and use that information to display targeted advertisements. This smart TVs can generate detailed profiles of users. Recent reports even suggest that some smart TV manufacturers can determine the political preference of the user, based on whether they watch conservative or liberal media.
Users usually don’t have any idea of how their behavior is tracked, and manufacturers hardly provide any information on these privacy sensitive features, according to the senators.
“Televisions have entered a new era, but that doesn’t mean that users’ sensitive information no longer deserves protection. The content consumers watch is private, and it should not be assumed that customers want companies to track and use information on their viewing habits,” the senators write in a letter(PDF) to the chairman of the FTC.
Both senators call for manufacturers who collect data on their users to make this clear. They also call for manufacturers to offer users the ability to provide permission for the collection and usage of their sensitive data. Also, when users don’t provide permission, the user should still have access to the core functions of the smart TV.