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Connected Smart Devices Are Listening All the Time

Today’s TV's are bigger and brighter than ever - but they’re also more connected - which means they might be monitoring what’s happening in your living room.

Update 2/6/2017: Since this story aired, VIZIO has agreed to a $2.2 million settlement with the FTC on charges it collected viewing history on 11 million smart TVs without proper consent. Here is how to turn off the feature.

Smart TV's come with ways to watch Netflix, Amazon and more - but they might be listening and watching you as well. Many new models have important privacy settings you need to know about.

Between Siri, Google and Alexa, voice control is everywhere! Even Samsung’s upcoming refrigerator takes voice commands.

But all this hands-free convenience comes at a price - devices are always listening, so they can spring into action!

"In some of the disclosure statements it even tells you to be careful not to disclose private or sensitive information," explained Brian Kahn, an attorney at Chapman, Glucksman, Dean, Roeb & Barger in Los Angeles and an electronics writer at HomeTheaterReview.com.

He says most people are aware devices like the Amazon Echo are always listening, but if you have a Smart TV - with voice or gesture control - chances are it is lending an ear too!

"You have to start thinking of your smart tv as a computer and not just a television," said Kahn.

Major manufacturers collect information on what you watch.

VIZIO TV's have a feature called "smart interactivity" that recognizes nearly anything on your screen. Other brands might send what you say to third parties for analysis.

"They can collect data through whatever searches you’re conducting, your channel changes and they can also see [devices] on your network," explained Kahn.

The more they know, the more lucrative you are to advertisers.

"We’re seeing reports of TVs that are collecting data when they’re off and the microphones are always active," said Kahn.

Voice control is already a culprit in unwanted Amazon orders and maybe even murder! Police in Arkansas want voice recordings an Echo might have made in connection with a case.

"Whenever you have rapidly developing technology, the law takes a little bit of time to follow up with it," concludes Kahn.

In many cases you can turn off these always listening features, but then again, you might lose some of the interactive features of your device.

More information:

VIZIO TV

See and delete your Amazon Echo voice recordings

See and delete your Google Now voice recordings

Read what The Wirecutter has to say about LG, Samsung, Sony & Sharp TV privacy settings