Computers & Electronics

Are there any TV brands without privacy issues?

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[OP]
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Are there any TV brands without privacy issues?

Someone gave us their 2019 LG TV to use in our spare bedroom, and I finally got around to connecting it and doing the software updates on it. My God! It wants me to agree to 3 separate user agreements totaling about 50 pages of legalese before we can use the TV. Among other things it says LG will gather data about everything we do with the TV, everything we watch on the TV, every cable channel and internet service we are subscribed to, and LG can do whatever the heck they want with the information. And that’s just the non-optional stuff – there’s more that’s optional, for example to do with targeted advertising and voice control. Apparently even if you are only using it as a dumb monitor, it will attempt to recognize the content you are watching and send that to LG as long as it has an internet connection. The only way to have privacy is to turn off the network connection and never use it.

Why would anyone accept that degree of intrusiveness in a TV? I was planning on updating our main TV soon, but I guess it won't be an LG OLED after all. Are there TV brands available these days that don't come with all this information-stealing baggage?
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Scote64 wrote: Someone gave us their 2019 LG TV to use in our spare bedroom, and I finally got around to connecting it and doing the software updates on it. My God! It wants me to agree to 3 separate user agreements totaling about 50 pages of legalese before we can use the TV. Among other things it says LG will gather data about everything we do with the TV, everything we watch on the TV, every cable channel and internet service we are subscribed to, and LG can do whatever the heck they want with the information. And that’s just the non-optional stuff – there’s more that’s optional, for example to do with targeted advertising and voice control. Apparently even if you are only using it as a dumb monitor, it will attempt to recognize the content you are watching and send that to LG as long as it has an internet connection. The only way to have privacy is to turn off the network connection and never use it.

Why would anyone accept that degree of intrusiveness in a TV? I was planning on updating our main TV soon, but I guess it won't be an LG OLED after all. Are there TV brands available these days that don't come with all this information-stealing baggage?
-Don't connect it to the internet
-Update the firmware via the updates available through the manufacturer's webpage using a USB stick

And yes there are such TV's, such as this one which I bought on sale during Boxing Day:

https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product/in ... y/13489489

just make sure it's not a Smart TV. Whether it will have the latest resolutions, a variety of sizes, and latest features, is a different question.
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While I have a smart TV technically, it's not connected to the internet or other networks. It's purely used to display stuff. All inputs come from outside sources, Apple TV, Xbox, PS etc. The TV itself can't do anything.
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We're not trying to live a disconnected life. We have a Chromecast and a Roku box connected to our current TV. I assume that super-snoop Google records everything we watch on the Chromecast. It's all under a Google account that's not connected to any personal identifying information, but I'm sure it's not beyond Google to aggregate their information and identify our household in their usual scary Big Brother way. Netflix certainly records everything we watch on Netflix, and they have personally-identifying credit card information. I'm sure Roku records everything we watch on Roku, although we don't pay them, and we signed up without supplying a credit card, so they may not have any personal information. I'm sure the cable company records every channel we watch on cable TV. I'm sure they all sell all the information they have to advertisers, and there's not much we can do about that.

The issue is that these were all individual decisions to allow one single information snoop to access one single source of information related directly to our use of their product.

What I don't want is another super-snoop to aggregate lots of data about different uses of other companies products just because they have access to it.

We don't have to register with LG or open an LG account, but does that stop them from gaining access to personally-identifying information if they are snooping on all the other apps?

Is the only alternative to disconnect the TV's network connection and use only external devices as we do now?
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Don’t connect the tv to the internet. It’s really that simple.
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Scote64 wrote: Is the only alternative to disconnect the TV's network connection and use only external devices as we do now?
Yes, at least the simplest I know. If you have Roku, Google and Netflix accessing that much of your personal info already, and you don't have to make an LG account, I'm not completely sure what the concern is. You're up to your waist in the pool water already, so why worry about getting wet at this point? Besides you already have Google collecting info, that's as bad as it gets.
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Gosh. Don't use the internet period.
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I would trust a Chromecast/FireStick any day over a SmartTV. Manufacturers like TCL, LG etc have little incentive to keep their TVs secure and once a model gets old, it is unlikely to get any support.

However, these streaming sticks get firmware updates regularly and are made by bigger companies, that want to get you into their ecosystem. As such they have have a much higher incentive to provide a high quality experience. Also, both Google & Amazon make enough money elsewhere that they probably won't sell your data. Might hand it over to the govt, or use it internally to sell you more shit or show personalized ads, but that is about it.
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My Sony XBR is not connected to internet. I just use Firestick to get streaming.
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kramer1 wrote: I would trust a Chromecast/FireStick any day over a SmartTV. Manufacturers like TCL, LG etc have little incentive to keep their TVs secure and once a model gets old, it is unlikely to get any support.

However, these streaming sticks get firmware updates regularly and are made by bigger companies, that want to get you into their ecosystem. As such they have have a much higher incentive to provide a high quality experience. Also, both Google & Amazon make enough money elsewhere that they probably won't sell your data. Might hand it over to the govt, or use it internally to sell you more shit or show personalized ads, but that is about it.
But people also need to consider the apps being used on their Chromecast. Sure, Google is the biggest data aggregator, but depending on usage there could be 5-10 more aggregators in there also. It's like worrying about a big front door being locked, while leaving all your windows wide open.
I often marvel at how hypersensitive people are to Big Business collecting their data, but when you hear about their data sharing patterns then you find they're surfing for adult content, using apps like TikTok and FaceBook to share personal info, daily whereabouts and interests, give out personal emails, address and phone numbers for contests, etc. A forest for the trees situation.

There are plenty of horror stories about TCL TV's and data collection, but I'm not as aware of Sony, LG or others doing the same with data. Also consider that Sony et al have other products such as laptops, gaming consoles, etc. that would be as likely to collect data. Would they have a different set of rules for those types of appliances and data collection? I've owned internet-connected PlayStation products for years and while PSN has had separate issues, I've never noticed anything related to Sony collecting any data through my PlayStation. Of course when I use YouTube and Netflix through it, I do notice my suggestions reflect what I have watched lately.
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Scote64 wrote: "Just got a new TV or streamer? You need to change these privacy settings"
https://www.cnet.com/how-to/just-got-a- ... -settings/

"LG is the only manufacturer we contacted that didn't respond to our questions, so we can't confirm what data its system collects."
Very informative, thank you. I'll probably look into these settings.

And while your TV is an LG, and they didn't respond, I don't take that as an indication they are more or less as data-hungry as everyone else. It's also very clear from the article that all the devices you do have connected to the internet are as culpable as the TV specifically.
Personally I'd be more nervous of TV's from TCL, which collect data and are known to be susceptible to backdoors and sending data directly to China.
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BernardRyder wrote: But people also need to consider the apps being used on their Chromecast. Sure, Google is the biggest data aggregator, but depending on usage there could be 5-10 more aggregators in there also. It's like worrying about a big front door being locked, while leaving all your windows wide open.
I often marvel at how hypersensitive people are to Big Business collecting their data, but when you hear about their data sharing patterns then you find they're surfing for adult content, using apps like TikTok and FaceBook to share personal info, daily whereabouts and interests, give out personal emails, address and phone numbers for contests, etc. A forest for the trees situation.

There are plenty of horror stories about TCL TV's and data collection, but I'm not as aware of Sony, LG or others doing the same with data. Also consider that Sony et al have other products such as laptops, gaming consoles, etc. that would be as likely to collect data. Would they have a different set of rules for those types of appliances and data collection? I've owned internet-connected PlayStation products for years and while PSN has had separate issues, I've never noticed anything related to Sony collecting any data through my PlayStation. Of course when I use YouTube and Netflix through it, I do notice my suggestions reflect what I have watched lately.
I am not really concerned about Data collection. That is impossible to stop and not worth worrying about imo.

Also most companies, specially ones not involved in govt sponsored espionage or ones that were setup specifically to harvest data, don't really care about that data they collect apart from its intended purpose. Not like well-paid employees are going to bother selling your data or going beyond what their boss asks of them.

My concern is the security vulnerabilities in the devices sold by smaller manufacturers. TCL TVs were recently found, in which they would allow anyone on the internet, to modify their Android OS. Now that is scary and the real issue here. It can easily be exploited allowing random people access to your entire LAN/Home Network. Once they have that, then it is easy to use local devices to further infect your network. Most home PCs don't even have strong passwords on them (atleast in my case).
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BernardRyder wrote: But people also need to consider the apps being used on their Chromecast. Sure, Google is the biggest data aggregator, but depending on usage there could be 5-10 more aggregators in there also. It's like worrying about a big front door being locked, while leaving all your windows wide open.
I often marvel at how hypersensitive people are to Big Business collecting their data, but when you hear about their data sharing patterns then you find they're surfing for adult content, using apps like TikTok and FaceBook to share personal info, daily whereabouts and interests, give out personal emails, address and phone numbers for contests, etc. A forest for the trees situation.

There are plenty of horror stories about TCL TV's and data collection, but I'm not as aware of Sony, LG or others doing the same with data. Also consider that Sony et al have other products such as laptops, gaming consoles, etc. that would be as likely to collect data. Would they have a different set of rules for those types of appliances and data collection? I've owned internet-connected PlayStation products for years and while PSN has had separate issues, I've never noticed anything related to Sony collecting any data through my PlayStation. Of course when I use YouTube and Netflix through it, I do notice my suggestions reflect what I have watched lately.
I think a bigger issue came to light from the android and mtk situation that happened back in may of 2019.
https://www.xda-developers.com/mediatek ... t-exploit/
https://thesiliconreview.com/2020/03/me ... ty-patched

"Even though MediaTek has patched this issue in all the affected chipsets, they can’t force device makers to implement the patches. MediaTek told us they had patches ready all the way back in May of 2019. Amazon, unsurprisingly, immediately patched the issue across its devices once they were made aware. However, 10 months have passed since MediaTek made a fix available to its partners, yet in March of 2020, dozens of OEMs haven’t fixed their devices. Most of the affected devices are on older Android releases with outdated Android Security Patch Levels (SPLs), and the update situation is even worse when you consider the hundreds of lesser-known device models using these MediaTek chips. MediaTek has a serious issue on its hands here, so they’ve turned to Google for help.

Unlike MediaTek, Google can force OEMs to update their devices through license agreements or program terms (such as Android One). For an OEM to declare that a device is in compliance with the 2020-03-05 Security Patch Level (SPL), the device must include all framework, Linux kernel, and applicable vendor driver fixes in the March 2020 Android Security Bulletin, which includes a fix for CVE-2020-0069, or MediaTek-su. (Google doesn’t actually seem to enforce that OEMs actually merge all patches when declaring a certain SPL, though.) Now that the March 2020 bulletin is out, this story should be over, right? Unfortunately, we have to also hold Google’s feet to the fire for dragging their feet on incorporating the patches."
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kramer1 wrote: I am not really concerned about Data collection. That is impossible to stop and not worth worrying about imo.

Also most companies, specially ones not involved in govt sponsored espionage or ones that were setup specifically to harvest data, don't really care about that data they collect apart from its intended purpose. Not like well-paid employees are going to bother selling your data or going beyond what their boss asks of them.

My concern is the security vulnerabilities in the devices sold by smaller manufacturers. TCL TVs were recently found, in which they would allow anyone on the internet, to modify their Android OS. Now that is scary and the real issue here. It can easily be exploited allowing random people access to your entire LAN/Home Network. Once they have that, then it is easy to use local devices to further infect your network. Most home PCs don't even have strong passwords on them (atleast in my case).
Exactly my point, as the OP is concerned about data collection from the TV. Unless it is a cheaper brand like TCL or Vizio or such, then I'd be more concerned about backdoors and Foreign agencies mining data for who knows what. An LG TV collecting data doesn't concern me as much.
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Windows 10 has privacy settings too. But over the years MS has been ignoring those settings, even on Enterprise versions of Windows. What makes you so sure the privacy settings on your tv actually functions?
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mrweather wrote: Don’t connect the tv to the internet. It’s really that simple.
Not really.

There are advertising display units (formerly known as 'smart TVs') that refuse to function if they are not able to download new advertising from the Internet.
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Nov 24, 2019
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Legitimate question, who cares?

Why do people think that they're so important to be worth spying on, and so paranoid about it? I'm sure Google/Chinese government/etc is so concerned about you streaming the Bachelor season 17 for the third time this month, better protect yourself.
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SaskCanesFan wrote: Legitimate question, who cares?

Why do people think that they're so important to be worth spying on, and so paranoid about it? I'm sure Google/Chinese government/etc is so concerned about you streaming the Bachelor season 17 for the third time this month, better protect yourself.
I do care because privacy is one of the pillar of democracy. I try to protect my privacy the more I can.

I have also seen case were insurance companies or other private companies have used data collected legaly in lawsuits. I prefer to be prudent than sorry later.
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And for Roku:

https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/1/22308 ... reaming-tv

"Roku’s advertising ambitions just got even bigger with new Nielsen deal

Roku is acquiring Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising unit. The acquisition means that Roku will also acquire Nielsen’s automatic content recognition (ACR) and dynamic ad insertion (DAI) technology. DAI technology simply means that advertisers will be able to receive “better targeting and measurement” capabilities so they can hyper-target a specific audience instead of more broad demographics like age and gender."

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