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How to turn off smart TV tracking (and what you lose if you do)

If the idea of your smart TV tracking how you use it concerns you, then there are ways to turn it off and still enjoy great features – with some drawbacks.

The world’s biggest smart TV brands can now track and monitor the way you use your television like never before.

If you go for a smart TV from our extensive TV reviews, you don’t have to connect it to the internet just to watch television – but it’s a shame not to enjoy great features such as apps, video streaming and web browsing on the big screen.

Here’s how to stop smart TV tracking and still use the features you’ve paid for – although, unfortunately, not all of them.

Smart TV tracking: what’s the fuss?

Tracking of your viewing habits and behaviour on smart TVs can have benefits, such as more personalised recommendations of things to watch, but there are also potential downsides.

In theory, the TV brands can gather vast quantities of data on you and, in some cases, use that information to make money by posting targeted adverts on your smart-TV service. You give permission for this to happen by agreeing to your TV manufacturer’s Ts & Cs at the setup stage.

What happens if you just say ‘no’? Well, in many cases that results in you losing access to some – if not all – of the smart functionality of the TV.

We’re calling on TV manufacturers to be more transparent about what they’re tracking, and to provide clearer and more upfront options to opt out without suffering the consequences highlighted below.

How to turn off smart TV tracking

Read on for a brand-by-brand breakdown of how to turn off any tracking on smart TVs – and what you lose if you do.

  • Samsung: Samsung tracks how you use your smart TV if you agree to its Ts & Cs. If you decline, you can’t access the smart-TV service. If you do agree, you can stop the TV tracking your viewing habits by declining the ‘recommendations privacy notice’ in the smart hub settings menu.
  • LG: As LG has stopped tracking (as of September 2014) on its smart TVs, it has removed options for you to block it. LG’s Ts & Cs still permit it to track you, and if you decline them you can’t access any apps or the LG Store – though you can still use the web browser.
  • Panasonic: If you don’t accept Panasonic’s Ts & Cs, you lose access to all apps, the web browser and content recommendations on your smart TV. If you accept, you can turn off tracking via Menu > Network > My Home Cloud settings > Notice > Stop collecting information.
  • Sony: Sony tracks you like the rest of the brands, but doesn’t do so to provide advertising on your smart-TV service – it uses the data to recommend what to watch. You can opt out of tracking by ticking ‘Disable Upload Data’ at the setup stage, but you’ll lose all recommendations.
  • Toshiba: You can’t access the smart-TV services, including the apps and web browser, unless you agree to Toshiba’s Ts & Cs. Once you do, you can go to Smart hub Settings > Log Upload agreement and then click ‘disagree’. This should stop tracking. You lose features such as personalised recommendations and the MediaGuide EPG, but can still use the apps and web browser.

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