Although Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Google Chromecast employ techniques that can track your activities, people use streaming devices to watch TV shows on them. Here’s how to regain the initiative.
Every day, people watch material on their TVs. One of the greatest ways to watch TV series and movies with the whole family is through your preferred streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. The drawback of streaming gadgets like Apple, Roku, Chromecast, and Amazon is that their software systems frequently track what you view in the background.
Every significant smart TV streaming service logs your watching habits. Manufacturers of software and hardware—from your new streaming stick to your TV—use that information to “enhance” the goods and services they provide, for instance by customising programme suggestions and the advertisements you see. Ads do help keep the price down when you’re buying a new streaming stick, even if it might be annoying.
Although we’ve previously discussed privacy options for TVs in general, for this article we looked at all of the most recent software on streaming devices from Apple, Roku, Google, and Amazon.
Here are the results we discovered and what you may do about them using your own new streaming players.
Fire TV Stick from Amazon
According to Amazon, little data is gathered on users’ use of third-party apps on Fire TV. “To aid with service and device enhancements, we gather information on the frequency and length of app use on Fire TV (i.e., when a customer opens or shuts an app). We don’t track what users view on Fire TV through third-party apps.”
Here’s how to restrict the amount of information that Fire TV gathers. Go to Settings, Preferences, then Privacy Settings to get all the options.
Select Device Usage Data, then disable this setting.
By going to Collect App Usage Data, you may disable this setting.
Choose Interest-based Ads, then deactivate this setting.
Now, your Amazon Fire TV device won’t be able to monitor your usage patterns for downloaded applications or follow your data for marketing purposes. It will still have adverts, but they won’t be specifically tailored to you. Consult the Amazon privacy settings FAQ for more information.
Google TV and Google Chromecast
Google offers a single privacy statement that applies to all of the company’s products and lists the information it gathers to sell advertising or suggest other material, such YouTube videos, to users.
Search terms, videos viewed, interactions with content and ads, voice and audio information when using audio features, purchase activity, contacts with whom you communicate or share content, and activity on third-party websites and apps that use our services are just a few examples of the information that is gathered.
According to Google, the Google Chromecast platform doesn’t carry out ACR or keep track of the precise material users are watching.
Here’s how to use Google TV to manage data on the Google Chromecast.
Go to Settings and scroll down to the Privacy section. You may find options for location, use, diagnostics, and advertisements there. Additionally, there are account settings pages with Google Assistant and Payment and Purchases options. The area also includes app settings, where you may manage restrictions, special app access, and app permissions.
Make sure the Usage and Diagnostics tab is turned off by clicking it. This indicates that you are no longer providing Google with diagnostic data.
To prevent applications from using your ID to create customised ad profiles, click Ads and then Opt Out of Ads Personalization.
Visit myactivity.google.com to control additional information Google holds about you, such as your YouTube and search histories, browsing and activity statistics.
According to Roku, it provides advertisers with data about users that includes “ads that you watch within Roku’s Channels and Third-Party Channels, as well as advertisements featured in content that you view through your Roku TV’s antenna and connected devices.”
Here’s how to restrict or turn off some of the tracking.
Open Settings on the Roku main menu, then choose Privacy.
Make sure the option labelled “Limit ad tracking” is ticked under Advertising. This prevents Roku from customising advertising and disclosing stream channel watching information for measurement. Your decision not to see targeted adverts will be sent to channel providers by Roku, but it is up to them whether or not they comply. Similarly, “Limit Ad Tracking” won’t prevent certain channels, such as Hulu or Netflix, from gathering their own information about your activity or disclosing it to third parties.
You may select how a channel gets access to the microphone on Roku devices that have an integrated microphone in the remote by going to Microphone and then Channel Microphone Access. You may give them access at all times, never give them access, or have a popup appear and request your consent before they can use the microphone. You may control the permissions for each individual channel using the Channel Permissions button.
According to Apple’s privacy statement, the corporation uses the data from your Apple ID primarily to allow you to effortlessly continue where you left off on other devices. The data that it collects consists of “What media you’re watching, when you started watching it, what device you were using to watch it, and exactly where you finished watching it. Additionally, we keep a thorough record of each time Apple TV channels and Apple TV Plus were played back.”
The business does share certain information with partners that “operate with Apple to supply our goods and services, help Apple market to customers, and sell ads on Apple’s behalf to appear in the App Store and Apple News and Stocks,” according to the statement.
However, Apple always asks you if you want a certain app to track your usage the first time you use it, unlike the other companies on this list. If you click no each time this appears, you may stop each app from accessing your data.
Additionally, Apple offers additional privacy options that you may modify. Here’s where to look for them:
You must first locate and choose the settings icon. Click the General tab, then select Privacy by scrolling down. Location Services, Tracking, Photos, Bluetooth, HomeKit, Media, Apple Music, and Apple TV Users are all included under the Privacy menu.
Make sure Allow Apps to Ask to Track is On by selecting Tracking and clicking on it.
Re-enter the Privacy menu. An additional section titled Analytics and Improvements will be shown.
Change Turn off sharing Apple TV analytics.
Turn off Siri Improvements and Dictation.
As a result, Apple is no longer able to monitor your analytics or use your data to enhance Siri or dictation.
In a previous version of this article, it was claimed falsely that these streaming devices use automatic content recognition, or ACR, software to monitor what you view. On streaming devices, none of these four platforms support ACR, however certain smart TVs that run these platforms do.