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re: Can I be spied on from my Smart TV, Smartphone, or Laptops w


How To Stop Your Smart TV From Spying on You

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How to keep your smart TV from spying on you

Take my Vizio M50-C1 50-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV. It's a great TV with an excellent display. It just has this one little problem: When I first got it, it was tracking my viewing habits and sharing this data with advertisers... by default.

Then, there's Samsung. It was revealed last year that some Samsung smart TV models can "capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features."

And we can't forget LG. In 2013, LG wasn't sure if its smart TVs were spying on you or not. I think we can safely assume it was spying.

So, what can you do?

Well, for starters, don't buy smart TVs in the first place. Apple TV and Roku, to name two, supply pretty much everything a smart TV does and more. Sure, they can have security holes as well, but at least they're designed by people with a clue about security and network engineering.

What's that? You already have a smart TV? Bite the bullet, disconnect it from the internet, and turn it into a dumb TV.

First, check to see if your TV will let you disconnect from your Wi-Fi network. If it won't, reset it to its factory default setting. When it turns on again and goes through its setup routine, don't give it your Wi-Fi password.


How to know if your smart TV can spy on you

from: If you have a smart TV, take a closer look at your privacy settings


If you have a Samsung TV, there are several ways to turn off voice recording. On newer TVs, go to Home > Settings > System > Expert Settings > Voice Interactionand turn to off. On older TVs, it may be in Settings > select Smart Features > Voice Recognition > switch to off.

You can also go to Settings > Support > Terms & Policies and opt to "Disagree" with the policies for Viewing Information Services, Voice Recognition Services, and Nuance Voice Recognition and Privacy Notices.


from: How to stop your Vizio TV from spying on you


There are two different types of TVs impacted here. The first covers VIA-designated Vizio TVs built through the end of the year in 2011, and the second group includes VIA-designated Vizio TVs sold after 2011. VIA, by the way, stands for Vizio Internet Apps.

If your TV is from 2011 or earlier, Vizio says that data collection has already been disabled remotely. If you want to be sure, follow these steps:

  • Press the Menu button on your Vizio remote
  • Select Settings
  • Scroll to Smart Interactivity and turn it off

If you have a newer TV model, follow these steps to disable data collection:

  • Press the Menu button on your Vizio remote
  • Select Settings
  • Select System
  • Select Reset and Admin
  • Scroll to Smart Interactivity and turn it off

from: How to keep your smart TV from spying on you

On the Vizio, which is the most troubling since it's the only company -- that we know of -- that spies by default, you can turn off Smart Interactivity by following these steps from your TV.

  1. Press the menu button on your TV's remote.
  2. Select settings.
  3. Highlight Smart Interactivity.
  4. Press right arrow to change setting to off.



Shut It Off on Sony TVs

Most of Sony's newer TVs are Android TVs, so in addition to Sony's policies they're also subject to Google's data-collection and privacy practices. In order to use a Sony Android TV, you have to consent to Google's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which you'll see when setting up the Sony Android TV for the first time. Sony also collects data, but you can "disagree" and opt out. In the menu go to Home, and then Settings. Look for TV - About, then Legal Information, and then Sony Legal (or Legal Information) and Disagree. One older Sony sets look for Disable Upload Data instead.


What is Automatic content recognition (ACR)?


Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. Devices containing ACR support enable users quickly obtain additional information about the content they have just experienced without any user based input or search efforts. For example, developers of the application can then provide personalized complementary content to viewers


Vizio admits to spying on you through your smart TV

Starting in February 2014, the software on Vizio TVs collected a treasure trove of data, transmitting it to its servers, Ars Technica reports. Vizio then sold it to unnamed third-parties, for audience measurement, analysis, and tracking purposes.

Vizio said that the software would not collect personally identifiable information.

“The ACR program never paired viewing data with personally identifiable information such as name or contact information, and the Commission did not allege or contend otherwise,” the company said. “Instead, as the Complaint notes, the practices challenged by the government related only to the use of viewing data in the ‘aggregate’ to create summary reports measuring viewing audiences or behaviors.”

Can people really spy on me through my laptop or smartphone camera?

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg puts tape over his computer's microphone and camera to protect his privacy The entrepreneur protects against hackers in the simplest way.

How to Disable Your Webcam (and Why You Should)

Unplug It

For desktop users with external webcams, the easiest solution is to simply unplug the USB webcam. No amount of hacking is going to magically plug an unplugged device back in.

Disable It in the BIOS

If you have a laptop with an integrated webcam (or a rare all-in-one desktop model that also sports an integrated webcam), you have a few options. If your BIOS supports it, you can disable it at the BIOS level, which is ideal.

Reboot your computer and enter into the BIOS (follow the on-screen instructions to enter “SETUP”, typically by pressing the F2 key, the DEL key, or a function key combination of some sort). Look through the BIOS options for an entry labeled something like “webcam,” “integrated camera,” or “CMOS camera.” These entries will typically have a simple toggle, like enable/disable or lock/unlock. Disable or lock the hardware to turn off your webcam.

Unfortunately, the BIOS solution is relatively rare and typically found on computers from vendors with heavy institutional sales. Business Dell and Lenovo laptops, for example, commonly ship with this feature in the BIOS because their corporate buyers want the ability to disable the webcam. With other vendors (and even within computer lines from the aforementioned vendors) it’s hit or miss.

Be forewarned that disabling the webcam typically disables the microphone too, as in most laptops the camera and microphone module are on the same small expansion board. This is obviously a benefit (from a privacy standpoint) but you should be aware of it so you’re not left wondering why your mic is dead.

Disable It in the OS

This solution isn’t quite as secure or foolproof, but it’s a welcome next step. You can cripple your webcam by disabling it and removing driver support for it.

The technique for doing so varies from operating system to operating system, but the general premise is the same. In Windows, you just need to enter the Device Manager (click Start and search for “device manager” to find it). There, you can locate your webcam under the “Imaging Devices” category, right-click it, and choose “Disable” or “Uninstall”.

Obviously this isn’t a perfect solution. If someone has remote administrative access to your machine they can always, with a greater or lesser degree of hassle, install the missing drivers and enable the device again.

Barring that kind of focus and determination, however, it’s a simple and easy way to disable your webcam. It is, however, rather inconvenient if you actually use your integrated webcam with any regularity. This brings us to the next solution: obscuring the lens with a cover.





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