Don’t let your new Smart TV spy on you. That’s the advice the FBI’s Oregon field office released in a statement over the weekend.
These so-called “Smart TVs” are called that because they connect to the internet, plugging directly into streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Newer ones have built-in cameras and microphones, so they can recognize different viewers or take audio commands like Siri.
The FBI’s Oregon Division released a statement indicating that there’s a downside to this convenience. “Beyond the risk that your TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you, that television can also be a gateway for hackers to come into your home.”
The FBI’s solution for this modern problem? An old-school answer. Just put a piece a tape over the camera, if you can’t disable the camera otherwise, they say.
The privacy concerns of Smart TVs don’t stop at hackers, said Dr. B. Clifford Neuman.
“The privacy concerns are not simply the microphone and cameras but also the monitoring of your activities — what you’re watching — smart TVs, for a long time, have been sending this information back to the manufacturers that they use for marketing purposes that they sell to other organizations.”
For some consumers, it’s a problem. Jonathan Savage, who was buying a Smart TV from a Best Buy in Culver City, said, “Why would I pay for a service — a TV — and then they get something from me?"
But for others, it’s no concern.
“I have an iPhone," said Carol Reed at the same Best Buy. “They hear what I say anyways.”