So you have a newAs a holiday gift (maybe from yourself, but who prepares?). Congrats! Whether it’s a Black Friday deal or a fancy stocking stuffer, now is the time to relax and enjoy the excitement of having all your favorite streaming services in one handy device.
But before you get too snug on the couch, you might want to dig into some listings to see how your new device handles your privacy. In many ways, the content you watch on the big screen is watching you again. While most modern TVs and streaming devices don’t track you with physical cameras, their software platforms often do..
From Amazon and Roku to Google and even Apple, major smart platforms are capturing your viewing data. Software and hardware makers – from new broadcasts to the TV set itself – use it to “improve” the products they offer, for example by tailoring viewing recommendations and the ads they show you. While it can be frustrating, being able to display ads helps keep costs down when buying a new streaming device.
One of the tracking tools is called Automatic Content Recognition, and it’s software that recognizes the images on your TV. ACR works regardless of whether images are coming through an app or an HDMI port such as a cable box, X-Box
or . The good news is that you can turn it off.
while weFor this story, we’ve checked out all the latest software on streaming devices from Amazon, Roku, Google, and Apple.
Here’s what we found and what you can do about it on your new streaming players.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
According to Amazon, they use this data to “develop and improve products and features, to gain insights into how products are used, to evaluate customer engagement, to identify potential quality issues, to analyze our business, and to customize marketing offerings.”
The exact data you capture varies by application and service.
Here’s how you can take back control. All settings can be found by going to Settings, and then Preferences and then Privacy settings.
- Choose Device usage data Turn off this setting
- go to to gather Application usage data Turn off this setting
- Choose Interest-based advertising Turn this setting off.
Now, your Amazon Fire TV device will not be able to track your data for marketing purposes or be able to consider how often and for how long you use downloaded apps. It will also not give you targeted ads, but it will still contain ads.
Google Chromecast with Google TV
The data collected includes the terms you search for, the videos you watch, views and interactions with content and ads, audio and audio information when using audio features, purchase activity, people with whom you communicate or share content, and activity on third-party sites and apps that use our Services .
Google says that Google Chromecast as a platform does not perform ACR or monitor the specific content that users watch.
Here’s how to control data on Google Chromecast using Google TV.
- head for Settings, scroll down to a section called Privacy. There you can access site and usage settings, personalization and ads. There are also Account Settings sections that feature the Google Assistant as well as Payment and Purchases. Finally, the section contains the app settings where you can control app permissions, access to private apps, security, and restrictions.
- click Usage and Diagnostics And make sure this tab is turned off. This means that you are no longer sending diagnostic information to Google.
- click advertisements, And Opting out of personalizing ads, to prevent apps from using your ID to create personalized advertising profiles.
- To manage other data that Google owns, such as YouTube, search logs, web data, and activity, head over to myactivity.google.com.
Roku says it shares data with advertisers “including the ads you see on Roku channels and third-party channels, as well as ads embedded in content you watch through the Roku TV antenna and connected devices.”
Here’s what you need to do to limit or disable some tracking.
- From Roku’s main menu, open Settings and headed to Privacy.
- to Advertising, make sure that the box Limit ad tracking Examined. This prevents Roku from personalizing ads and sharing display data from broadcast channels for the purpose of measurement. Roku will let channel providers know that you prefer no personalized ads, but according to Roku, it’s up to providers if they respect your preferences or not. Likewise, Limit Ad Tracking will not prevent individual channels, such as Hulu or Netflix, from collecting their own data about your use or passing that information on to other parties.
- For Roku devices with a microphone built into the remote control, you can go to microphone and then Microphone channel access Chooses how the channel accesses the microphone. You can always allow them access, never allow them access or get a quick popup and ask for permission to access the microphone. With the Channel Permissions button, you can manage the permissions for each channel individually.
They also state that they share some information with their partners who “work with Apple to deliver our products and services, help Apple market to customers, and sell ads on Apple’s behalf to display in the App Store and Apple News and Stocks.”
But unlike others on this list, Apple always asks if you want individual apps to track your usage the first time you use them. You can prevent every app from seeing your data by clicking No every time this pops up.
But Apple still has some privacy settings that you can change. Here’s how to find it:
First, you will have to find a file Settings icon. Hit General tab, then scroll down to Privacy. The privacy menu features Location, Tracking, Photos, Bluetooth, HomeKit, Media, and Apple Music services as well as Apple TV users.
- Click tracking And make sure of it Allow apps to prompt for tracking is being employment.
- Refer to the Privacy List. You will see a separate section called Analytics and improvements
- change Share Apple TV analytics to turning off.
- change Improve Siri and Dictation to turning off.
You’ve now successfully restricted Apple from tracking your analytics and using your data to improve Siri or dictation.