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How smart TVs track more than what's on tonight
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-07-10 22:14:37

The growing concern over online data and user privacy has been focused on tech giants like Facebook and devices like smartphones. But people's data is also increasingly being vacuumed right out of their living rooms via their televisions, sometimes without their knowledge.

In recent years, data companies have harnessed new technology to immediately identify what people are watching on internet-connected TVs, then using that information to send targeted advertisements to other devices in their homes. Marketers, forever hungry to get their products in front of the people most likely to buy them, have eagerly embraced such practices. But the companies watching what people watch have also faced scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates over how transparent they are being with users.

This is so deeply creepy.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-26
The future is micro-transactions and privacy nightmares
By sukru on 2018-07-11 08:58:22
We brought this upon ourselves. As customers, people no longer want to pay full price for stuff, but rather get them "free" or with a discount.

However the cost is then subsidized by other means. For starters, it could be a really low quality product, but in most cases companies make up for the lost revenue in other ways. And once they taste these new profit avenues they do not want to go back.

For example, there used to be a lot of paid games in mobile phone markets. There still are some, but if you look at "top grossing" charts, you'll see that it is dominated by "free" offerings. People would not pay even a single Dollar for an app/game, but they gladly pay much more in micro-transactions. They would not agree to a $5 subscriptions to DotA, HotS, Fortnite, but can pay much more than that for cosmetic items every month.

And for data, we want cheaper TVs, with more functionality. Like older PC manufacturers who installed too many crapware by default to make up for deficits, they too started including ads and data collection to extract more money. And they even do this after you buy the thing (mine had a forced update which switched on home screen ads, and I don't know a way to disable them). Now even if you buy high end stuff, they will collect your data.

That would be all good and dandy, however:
(1) many companies are incapable of properly securing their customer's data (assuming they had goodwill in the first place)
(2) once the slippery slope starts, they start forcing more things onto "freemium" offerings, crippling usage without making ongoing payments (with actual cash, or data)

I know that I am also part of the problem. I look for deep discounts before buying stuff, and not pay 100% attention to the changes forced upon us. But that does not mean that I like where we are going.

The future will most likely be dominated by freemium with more data and ads.
Permalink - Score: 4
RE[2]: Captured partisans digging their own mass graves
By smashIt on 2018-07-11 09:40:51
All you have to do is buy a info screen / public display instead of a TV.
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[6]: Captured partisans digging their own mass graves
By JimRaynor on 2018-07-11 10:25:57
Of course there are non-smart TV. Just look at chep TVs (there may be no at premium market).
Permalink - Score: 2
By romma on 2018-07-11 11:35:44
One day:

The spectacles with augmented reality to help you navigate, are also scanning text in the environment, and following your eyeballs' focus...

which are linked to your heart rate monitor,

and a continuous blood glucose monitor,

and they detect that your heart rate went up a bit when you looked at a shop sign of a bakery you were just walking past,

and so the system fetches an advert...

but does not show it to you until your blood glucose is crashing, and you are starting to get angry and hungry and

in that state of weak-willed impulsive action, it THEN shows you the advert, offering a special discount (just for you) to a shop or eatery which is nearby (because of course it also knows your location.)

That's the endgame. Give people the ad, what they want, when they need it most, and are least likely to exercise conscious resistance.

Permalink - Score: 3
RE: The future is micro-transactions and privacy nightmares
By nitrile on 2018-07-11 11:54:54
Almost every aspect of this, which amounts to the modern internet in entirety is detestable. No, it's not new - as said, reboxers of IT have been including paid crapware since the 90's, but I think it's two trends crossed at some point. perhaps it was then.

- users got insufficiently capable (with IT, and communications becoming the ever larger market - that's not a bad thing, or shouldn't have been - it's just enabling the wrong people*). from my current point of view working on the edge of consumer technical support I can see that giant demographics are incapable of understanding what any of it means, or most especially:

- the extent of what this kind of invasive spyware capable of doing, and that it's doing it transparently. once it's on, you have to be prepared to deal with finding out things that you'd rather weren't and why help yourself to a load of cognitive dissonance. it can't be that bad. or is it.

There's states in the US where home invasion of this kind of nature and extent would get you shot, and even being not one of them I'd get why. But not why those same people (and plenty that should know better) will click through eula's on their $100 android and bemoan those who waste their money on anything more expensive.


Anything is game to get below competition's sticker price. The only example I can think of where there's an A/B model to _actually_ choose is amazon's kindle, in with/without ads versions. I'm very curious what percentage they sell of each.

As for this software infestation specifically. I encountered it, on buying a branded TV (actually, the first I ever owned wither smart, or dumb) from one of the mfg in the article, and pre-expecting but being disappointed to actually find something like it on a fairly expensive product, noted - that if *I* have to research carefully, at configuration time so as to not activate and 'agree' to this contemptible malware unintentionally - I've zero doubt that almost all the normies give up, or are flat out duped and can't turn it off, if they even understand everything it does, and consequentially why they might want to.

There's money in _not_ explaining, which pretty much says it all.

People shouldn't have to deal with this and largely aren't up to thinking that way, which is kind of the point to make.

I, as will most here - can take, in most cases** the technical steps necessary to exercise ownership of my own things, but even I don't want to have to fight with my TV/phone/Windows 10/ insert device here to do so. The trend is however that I'm going to have no choice about that, because IT isn't made for me but for the herd, and they manifestly do not understand or get it -- I'm sure such voices are out there, but I don't see many people justifying it because they chose it. It just happened.

I'm paraphrasing from somewhere else (I'd google it, but ..) we've created a dystopia, all in the name of selling ads.

I will opt out.

* i.e. at best, technocrats - the rest - con artists & charlatans
** some features that have no real online technical requirement are often blocked unless you X the box, of course. that can take research.
Permalink - Score: 0
RE[5]: Captured partisans digging their own mass graves
By Gargyle on 2018-07-11 15:29:36
This can be countered very easily: are you saying at the turning point they offered the same quality and the same up-to-date screen tech without the smart bits attached, but we said "no sir, we don't want that! give us privacy invasive things instead!", hm?

I can't speak for everyone, but I said no such things. This isn't a case where the consumer has a choice, it's rather a question of: do you want a TV? Yes? Then buy whatever they sell you, because what else are you going to get? Right.

Edited 2018-07-11 15:35 UTC
Permalink - Score: 1
Blame the negligent politicians
By blodprop on 2018-07-11 16:38:17
Many of the posts here seem to make it people's fault that devices are increasingly invading the private sfere.

Let's put the blame where it belongs: our politicians, who should be enacting laws to protect people from the limitless greed of the corporate machine, rather than empower it.

Digital rights for content owners have been in place for decades, yet somehow data about me does not count as content and hence is not offered protection.

Asking the industry to fix this won't work, so it's high time a universal set of digital rights FOR PEOPLE are formulated, enacted, and enforced.
Permalink - Score: 2
Comment by ilovebeer
By ilovebeer on 2018-07-11 17:10:08
If a tv wants to monitor what I watch, and try to spam advertising to other devices in my house, then I expect to get that tv for free.

When I am buying a tv from a retailer, I expect that it not be a god damn surveillance tool. My tv has no business connecting to or even knowing what's on my lan. It has no business scanning for open wifi connections. It has no business what I watch. It's sole job is to display images, not interrogate my life.

I guess from now on anyone who cares about their privacy will have to physically disable the wifi controller and any microphones the tv has to eavesdrop you with. It's ridiculous the first thing people have to do when buying a new tv is protect themselves from it!

Edited 2018-07-11 17:11 UTC
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[7]: Captured partisans digging their own mass graves
By Drumhellar on 2018-07-11 18:39:35
Looking at my local Target, which is hardly a premium store, every single TV between 40" and 49" is a smart TV, with the sole exception being a 4k Samsung - the most expensive TV they sell.

So, basically the exact opposite of what you're saying.
Permalink - Score: 2
RE[8]: Captured partisans digging their own mass graves
By JimRaynor on 2018-07-11 20:44:53
My friend just bought one at Auchan. I bought model for my mother also one year ago.
Permalink - Score: 2

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