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Is your smart TV watching you?

Posted: 10:37 PM, Dec 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-03 07:41:22-05
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TUCSON, Ariz. -- One of the most popular items on people’s Christmas list could potentially allow hackers access to homes.

While super sales are a good thing for your bank account, the FBI says they may also reap serious rewards for cyber criminals ’ intent on causing harm.

In the FBI's recent Tech Tues message, the agency warns of the latest threats to Smart TV consumers.

The FBI says there are devices coming to the market that allow you to video chat using your TV.

A number of the newer smart TVs also have built in cameras.

In other words, while you are watching your tv...it's watching back.

Irene Manzanedo, with the Better Business Bureau, says this can be very dangerous.

She says smart TVs can connect to the internet for streaming services and apps.

“It's troubling because it's tracking you. We need to realize that the information we input in this device, in this case the TV, we're putting it out there for the whole world to see. So we need to be aware, are we comfortable with having that information out there,” Manzanedo told KGUN9.

It is a connection the FBI says could be used by cyber criminals to access your home, via the device's camera or microphone. Manzanedo says this makes things easier for hackers.

“Never underestimate a hacker. We have to constantly be evolving because they are already evolved,” she added.

Data firms can use your TV history to link up what you watch with what you do on your phone, tablet, laptop, and even what you buy in stores.

This is called "automatic content recognition" or ACR. Manzanedo says most people opt into it when setting up their smart TV.

“Many times we just want to click, click, and just check all the boxes, just because we want the set-up to be done and over with,” she said.

If you've done this, she recommends going back and changing your privacy settings.

If you're thinking of getting a smart t-v, she recommends you read through the initial privacy settings.

“Read through what they are telling you and check off the box. If you're not comfortable with something so that you are not opting in to those particular items.”

The FBI also warns about the microphone in the remotes. Manzanedo also recommends that before buying a smart TV, you check to see if the manufacturer has updated policies

Depending on your TV, the "accept" button is pre-selected, and you have to either press it or click over to “Decline” to continue setup.

Declining doesn’t deactivate any of the useful functions of the TV.

Things to look out for:

-Roku TVs have an ACR opt-in menu titled “A Better Smart TV Experience from Roku” and has “Use this info to enhance TV viewing” pre-checked for you.

-Samsung’s ACR permission is titled “Terms & Conditions” — which may make you overlook what you are actually accepting.