Smile! You are being watched by your cable TV

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cable box

Cheryl K. Chumley reports for The Washington Times, June 17, 2013, the cable TV companies have acquired a new technology that enables them to peer directly into television watchers’ homes and monitor viewing habits and reactions to product advertisements.

The technology would come via infrared cameras and microphones embedded in digital video recorders (DVRs) or cable boxes, which will enable the cable companies to watch and analyze viewers’ reaction (what they do and say) to televised ads. The cable companies then use the data collected to target specific advertisements to the particular household.

Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit the technology on boxes and collection of information without consumer permission. The bill would also require companies that do use the data to show “we are watching you” messages on the screen and to explain just what kinds of information is being captured and for what reasons.

The two Congressmen explain in a press release that “A patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office by Verizon notes the technology could detect a range of viewer activities. According to the patent application, the set-top device will be able to distinguish ‘ambient action … of eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, humming, cleaning’ and more.”

Congressman Capuano stated: “This may sound preposterous but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy. Given what we have recently learned about the access that the government has to the phone numbers we call, the emails we send and the websites we visit, it is important for consumers to decide for themselves whether they want this technology. Think about what you do in the privacy of your own home and then think about how you would feel sharing that information with your cable company, their advertisers and your government.”

For his part, Congressman Jones stated: “Allowing this type of technology to be installed in the homes of individuals without their consent would be an egregious invasion of privacy. When the government has an unfortunate history of secretly collecting private citizens’ information from technology providers, we must ensure that safeguards are in place to protect Americans’ rights.”

Current law is silent on these devices. The We Are Watching You Act will require both an opt-in for consumers and an on-screen warning whenever the device is recording information about consumers.


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0 responses to “Smile! You are being watched by your cable TV

  1. I read several months ago where Comcast, Verizon and several more companies have applied for patents for this intrusion to be applied not only to our TVs, but our phones as well as our computers. Time to rise up and scream.

  2. This is scary stuff!

  3. Why on God’s green earth would anyone allow this in their home. Technology will destroy us eventually.

  4. Please… they have you in a bottle ketchup, all sugary and red all over kiddies.

  5. Not me, I canceled my cable months ago. Nothing much to watch for the money they charge!

  6. What about satellite tv?

  7. And then there is the new X Box One with it’s all intrusive spying capabilities!
    I’m with you David Dickey, why would one allow this in their home?

  8. Reblogged this on myrandomthoughtsandmusing and commented:
    That seems like quite a bit of effort and money to put into something just to ‘super target ads’ and tailor them to the viewer/consumer, doesn’t it? Just sayin’. I’d be skeptical (a little) if it wadn”t for recent disclosure’s by Snowden.

  9. Awful lot of effort and money invested just to super target ads to the viewer, isn’t it?

  10. Good grief! 🙁

  11. I guess this will be 1000 and 2 uses for duct tape .

  12. Dressage Rider

    I’m ditching Comcast since it is a whole lot of nuthin for a fancy big price. Besides the potential for spying.

  13. commie bastards!

  14. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this informative post. I am not surprised of the continuing privacy violations.. .

  15. Oh hell no! What about the people who (ahem) make love on the couch during “Game of Thrones”?? If I’m gonna be a porn star, I wanna be paid like one!

    • MTV and Cartoon Channel your on them, funny and hard up, they pay minimum wage, its the law, after all.

  16. and next work hard and be happy will greet you on your tv every morning
    your gated community will have a sign above the entrance stating arbeit macht frei

  17. Amazing that people will moan and groan about this technology when they allow televisions in their homes in the first place.
    Your behaviour is being modified every time you turn your tube on. It is shaping your children’s later adult lives. It introduces depravity into your homes.
    And you’re worried that they now want to watch you and record you? How about saving $50 bucks a month and taking your TV’s to the landfill?

  18. Shaw cable use to give you a box like that, and give you extra freebies, to you… for participating in this act.
    to monitor this stuff
    I guess someone else is getting the benefits now?

  19. My next item of purchase is going to be a bug and wireless device detector. Then a aresol fog horn for when I find one in my home. It has been said that they are also in new appliances. The cable companies are following suit with the cell phone providers selling info to the govme#t.


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