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Smart TVs Track More Usage Data Than You Might Think

by Harikrishna Mekala

There is growing concern over user privacy, especially tech giants like Facebook who have previously been found to lack integrity when it comes to storing data. At present, people’s data is being collected on mass scale whilst hiding under the name of ‘data analytics’ for a better user experience. Data companies are trying to analyse what people are watching on the internet often without their consent.

The data companies are using internet-connected TVs so that they can identify what people are watching to target user interest-based advertisements. While marketers are hungry for data because of the General Data Protection Regulations. Many tech companies have faced scrutiny from regulators and privacy advocates on how the tech companies must be transparent with the users.

Samba TV is one of the biggest companies to track viewer information to make personalized recommendations, the company is also said to have been collecting viewing data from more than 13.5 million smart TVs in the US alone. The company has raised more than $40 million in funding from VCs such as Time Warner, Liberty Global and Angel Investor Mark Cuban.

Samba TV has made deals with more than a dozen TV brands such as Sony, Sharp, TCL, Philips to pre-install software on specific models which also enables a feature called interactive TV. The company has declined to provide the most recent statistics but it was rumoured that more than 90% of the TV owners have opted for their service.

Samba TV can track every application such as Netflix and Hulu. While the biggest advertisers were Citi Bank and JetBlue, now Expedia is investing a large amount for advertising on Samba. The Samba TV is following the guidelines developed by the Federal Trade Commission which suggests that the company can’t directly sell the data but advertisers can pay to direct ads to other gadgets.

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