On July 12, 2018, two U.S. Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate the privacy policies and practices of smart TV manufacturers. In their letter, Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) note that smart TVs can “compile detailed profiles about users’ preferences and characteristics” which can then allow companies to personalize ads to be sent to “customers’ computers, phones or any other device that shares the smart TV’s internet connection.”
The Senators cite the history of unique privacy concerns raised by companies tracking information about the content viewers watch on TV. They also noted the VIZIO case, in which the FTC settled with VIZIO for preinstalling software on its TV to track data on consumers without their consent.
The letter concludes by reemphasizing the private nature of content consumers watch on their smart TVs, and stating that any company that collects data from consumers via their smart TVs should “comprehensively and consistently detail” what data will collected and how it will be used. The letter also recommends that users should be given the opportunity to affirmatively consent to the collection and use of their sensitive information.