Roku and Amazon Fire TV Are Using Your Data More Than You Think

Consumer Reports has explored the security and privacy of several well-known streaming devices. It is with great astonishment that they have discovered that all smart TVs can collect and share different information about their users.  A recent study found that several streaming devices send data to Facebook, Google, Amazon, and even some applications that were not even installed on your device. Other research has been done on steep devices like Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

Striking data came in, with approximately 69% of Roku channels and 89% of Amazon Fire TV channels watching what their users watch. It is well known from news articles that Roku made more money from advertising than from hardware sales itself. Unlike search engines and individual mobile apps, you don’t have many options for blocking ads. It’s just that the whole system is designed so you can’t figure out what data is being collected and you don’t have many options to prevent it.

To try to restrict the collection of personal information on these streaming devices, you can go to settings and then to privacy settings. Click on the setting to disable application data collection and see results. If you have Roku channels, press the home button and then the privacy setting and from there, uncheck the TV user info tag. You should also know that be sure to turn off the TV’s microphones and cameras. It would be a good idea to secure the camera and cover it with some black paper just in case.

Be prepared for that too for example, if the ad volume reaches its limit, ad tracking would stop on individual Roku channels and prevent user identity from being sent, but other channels can still send users’ serial numbers regardless of what you set in the settings and want to prevent. Researchers have also come to the simple discovery that Roku channels are totally unnecessary and an unfair program with privacy protection problems. On the contrary, since it was introduced, it gives them an easy opportunity to contact various sites regardless. Another very interesting fact was noted, on Roku channels when settings are off they contact 96 tracker domains and in other cases where even more 128 are turned on. On Fire Tv, the situation is slightly different. Data protection exists in part, and sharing is much reduced on certain channels only. They leave it to each channel individually to set the rules themselves instead of introducing a universal one that all channels should respect equally.

An Amazon spokesman once said, in defense, that when shoppers take down ads, they require app developers not to use user profile IDs for advertising purposes. He also said that they require all existing applications that collect personal information from Fire TV users to provide a privacy notice that would reveal to them what information is being collected, by whom and for what purposes they are using it. Not all collections are known to be directly associated with an ID, since services must differentiate users to serve content.

The main things we realized are that any countermeasures do not apply at all because there are always other options available on these devices, even if one device sends them away, others do the work instead, said one of the great Princeton researchers.  The truth is, if you manage to prevent your device from collecting all sorts of information about you, your activity such as what you like to watch and how long it is unfortunately otherwise, hidden, can be linked to be used.

 No matter how small and harmless your screening devices may seem, be aware of the dangers they may cause you. Unfortunately, no device in this world that does not have this problem. Mobile, television and others are all programmed and based on population monitoring. So it is quite clear that by some miracle they will not behave differently. At this point it is practically impossible to do or change anything on this issue. Certainly countermeasures should be supported by policies and regulations to ensure that viewer information is kept private. Eventually, various consumers who are not comfortable with this type of monitoring could join forces and try to organize a congress to solve these problems.


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