PC Doctor January 25, 2021

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Dear PC Doctor:

A while back, my husband and I got a Roku TV. We’ve been using it happily enough, but now I hear that it can be used to collect data about us. I hadn’t thought about that. Can you tell me anything about what the TV collects about us and if we have any options to stop it?


Private Citizen

Dear Private:

Smart TVs connect to the internet and have the ability to compile data about the viewers. Recent university studies reported on by Consumer Reports indicate that smart TVs not only collect data, but send the information to Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and more. The information that gets sent is gathered by ACR: Automatic Content Recognition. ACR tries to identify which shows you watch, and this information is used to recommend shows you might like and to tailor advertising to your interests.

If you want to, you can turn off Automatic Content Recognition. The steps vary depending on the model and brand of television you have. If you do an internet search for “How do I turn off ACR for [my brand and model TV]” you should find step-by-step instructions. If you do this, you may see less interesting program suggestions in your searches, and may see more ads that are not relevant to you.

Even if you turn off ACR, your smart TV will continue to collect information for its manufacturer. The only way to prevent that is to avoid connecting to the internet, which means ceasing to use it as a smart TV.

I hope this helps.
Until next time,
Happy computing!
PC Doctor

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