This is the sneaky way advertisers are spying on your binge-watching habits

Is your TV watching you?
(Image credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Some 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States are quietly piping data to advertisers about what you're watching, whether it's Game of Thrones or the Republican presidential debate or a rival company's commercial, The New York Times reports. While the opt-in page for Samba TV — which has deals with smart TVs made by Sony, Sharp, and Philips, among others — says it will "cleverly" recognize onscreen content and recommend shows and special offers, it does not explain the extent to which it is tracking your TV's every move. The "second-by-second" monitoring can apparently even identify the video games you play on your smart TV, the Times writes, with Samba TV offering advertisers the ability to send targeted advertisements to other products in your home connected to the same internet:

Samba TV, which says it has adhered to privacy guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission, does not directly sell its data. Instead, advertisers can pay the company to direct ads to other gadgets in a home after their TV commercials play, or one from a rival airs. Advertisers can also add to their websites a tag from Samba TV that allows them to determine if people visit after watching one of their commercials. [The New York Times]

At the end of 2016, more than 90 percent of people presented with the option to opt in to Samba TV did so, although as software engineer David Kitchen said, "You appear to opt into a discovery-recommendation service, but what you're really opting into is pervasive monitoring on your TV." Read more about how your TV might be spying on you for advertisers at The New York Times.

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