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Yes, your smart TV is spying on you – Here’s how to stop it

Smart TVs are big money savers compared to other tech on the market. They include built-in apps that can save you from buying streaming devices like a Roku or Fire TV Stick.

As with any smart technology, there’s a price to be paid for the convenience. In return for an always-connected experience, smart TVs collect data on users — a lot of it. Tap or click here to listen to Kim’s Daily Tech Update about the smart TV dilemma.

You won’t believe how your smart TV is not just gobbling up your viewing data. In some cases, it’s also gathering information about your home. This guide will walk you through how to opt out of this data collection so you can return to binging your favorite shows in peace.

Turn off your smart TV’s tracking features

Can you minimize your smart TV’s snooping activities? Yes. Our advice: Turn off its tracking features — especially Automatic Content Recognition (ACR).

What is ACR, and how do you turn it off? It’s a visual recognition feature that can identify every ad, TV show or movie you’re playing on your TV. This includes streaming boxes, cable/over-the-air TV and even DVD and Blu-Ray players.

RELATED: 5 things you didn’t know your smart TV could do

This data is collected and can be used for marketing and targeted advertising purposes. If this sounds too creepy, there are ways to turn it off. The exact methods will depend on your TV’s brand.


You can turn off your set’s ACR features if you own a Vizio smart TV. Here’s how:

On older Vizio TV sets that use Vizio Internet Apps (VIA), go to the TV’s System and then: Reset & Admin > Smart Interactivity > Off.

On Vizio smart TVs that use the newer SmartCast system, go to System > Reset & Admin > Viewing Data > toggle it to Off.


Some Samsung smart TVs include voice control. If you’re concerned about privacy, you can completely turn off voice control, ACR and ad tracking.

On newer Samsung sets, go to Settings > Support and scroll down to Terms & Policies. Here you can turn off Viewing Information Services (Samsung’s ACR technology), Internet-based Advertising (for personalized ad tracking) and Voice Recognition Services.

On older Samsung smart TVs, go to the Smart Hub menu > Settings > Support and look for Terms & Policy, then disable SyncPlus and Marketing. You can disable Voice Recognition Services in this section, too.

Remember that turning off your Samsung TV’s Voice Recognition Services will disable its voice commands.


LG’s ACR technology is baked into its newer WebOS-powered smart TVs, known as LivePlus. To turn this off, go to Settings > All Settings, then scroll down to General to a setting called LivePlus and toggle it Off.

To limit other forms of data collection on your LG smart TV, go back to Settings > All Settings and scroll down to General > About This TVUser Agreements and toggle Personalized Advertising to Off.

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon’s Fire TV platform is baked into some smart TVs. Although Amazon said it does not use ACR to identify content on Fire TV Edition TVs, it can still collect data about the over-the-air channels you watch and the streaming apps you use.

To turn this off, go to your TV’s Settings > Preferences and scroll to the “Right to Privacy Settings.” Turn off the setting labeled “Collect App and Over-the-Air Usage Data.” You can also turn off Interest-based ads in this section.

Roku TV

On Roku-powered smart TVs, you can turn off ACR by going to Settings and scrolling down and selecting Privacy > Smart TV Experience.

Next, uncheck “Use Information for TV Inputs” to disable ACR. Although this will stop your Roku TV from identifying your content on the pixel level, Roku can still collect data about the Roku TV streaming channels you’ve installed and used.

To prevent personalized ads on your Roku profile, go to Settings > Privacy > Advertising, then check “Limit ad tracking.” Note: This setting is also available on Roku streaming gadgets.

Samba TV

Another way advertisers track you is through a service called Samba TV.

How widespread is Samba TV? According to the New York Times, the company has struck deals with about a dozen popular TV makers to place its software on several models.

Brands with Samba TV include Sony, Sharp, TCL, Element, Sanyo, Toshiba, Westinghouse, Seiki and Philips.

Samba TV describes itself as a cutting-edge technology layer on your TV that understands what your TV is playing, regardless of the source. It also communicates with your devices, enabling personalized recommendations and unique second-screen experiences for compatible TVs and apps.

But wait, there’s more! Samba TV’s system can also reach out to other devices in your home connected to the same network as the TV. This means that aside from the ability to recognize and track content regardless of source, Samba TV can also create a device map of your home.

Samba TV claims it doesn’t sell its tracking data directly. Instead, advertisers and marketing firms pay them to send targeted ads to other connected gadgets in a home.

For example, it can direct ads and recommendations to your smartphone after a client’s TV commercial plays. Advertisers can also add Samba TV tags to their websites to let them know how many people visit after watching one of their ads.

Did you opt into Samba TV?

Have you opted into Samba TV’s service without even realizing it? When a Samba TV-enabled device is set up for the first time, you are encouraged to opt into the service and agree to its terms of service and privacy policy.

The opt in sounds enticing enough. “Interact with your favorite shows. Get recommendations based on the content you love. Connect your devices for exclusive content and special offers,” it states.

The problem? The nitty-gritty details of its terms of service are only available online via browser or if you click through to another screen on your TV.

Although these documents disclose their tracking practices, they are also long and difficult to understand. The company’s terms of service exceed 6,500 words, and the privacy policy is over 4,000 words! (Who reads these cryptic terms of service anyway?)

It’s no wonder that more than 90% of people choose to opt in, not realizing the amount of information they’re giving up to the company.

How to opt out of Samba TV

If you’re creeped out by Samba TV’s data collection and want to opt out, here’s how.

Smart TVs

According to Samba TV’s website, you can opt out of its smart TV services anytime by finding the option in your TV’s “Settings” page or within the “Interactive TV Service” user interface.

If applicable, another way to limit spying is by enabling “Limit Ad Tracking” from the “Privacy” menu within the “Interactive TV Settings” on your smart TV.

Samba TV wrote that its advertising platform would opt your Samba TV ad ID out of targeted advertising based on content viewing if you do this. You can also opt out of Samba TV web and app-based interest advertising with these steps:

Web browsers

You can opt out of having Samba use your web browsing information for interest-based or tailored advertisements by visiting or Follow the onscreen instructions.

Mobile devices

According to Samba TV, limiting ad tracking on your mobile device is the most effective and up-to-date method.

Here’s how you do this:

For Apple:

iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch – Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Apple Advertising > Toggle “Personalized Ads” to Off.

For Android:

(Note: Instructions may vary depending on your manufacturer and model.)

Android phones – Generally, on an Android gadget, you can go to Settings > Google > Ads > toggle “Opt out of Ads Personalization” to On. You can also reset your gadget’s advertising ID on this page.

Your other options

A few other simple options could be impractical, such as disconnecting your smart appliances from the internet. This renders gadgets that rely on an internet connection, like smart speakers or the web features of smart TVs, useless and may not be a viable option for most people.

If you think the convenience of having these smart gadgets is not worth the privacy implications, then it’s your choice to keep them out of your home.

You may also like: 30-second privacy check every Google and Facebook user must do today

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