Does My Smart TV Have a Camera? Is It Spying on Me?

Ever wondered if your smart TV has a camera? Here's what you need to know about these internet-connected devices and your privacy.

One common concern about smart TVs is whether they infringe on your privacy, either through a hidden camera or excessive data collection. Here’s what you should know about smart TVs, their cameras and how they collect information on users.

Do Smart TVs Have Cameras?

Some newer smart TVs are equipped with a built-in camera, but many are not. It really depends on the model.

If your smart TV has facial recognition or video chat features, chances are it has a camera. If it does, you should be able to find the lens if you look closely at the edges of the screen.

What Data Do Smart TVs Collect?

Like most smart devices, an internet-connected TV can collect personal data about you but generally not via the camera, if it has one. Instead, smart TVs use technology called automatic content recognition (ACR) to gather information about your viewing habits. ACR tracks the shows you watch, using the information to tailor content recommendations and advertisements. Many TV manufacturers also sell information about your viewing habits to third-parties.

If you don’t want this information collected, you can typically turn off ACR through your smart TV’s privacy settings. However, the device may still collect basic data for the manufacturer. Read your TV’s user agreement for details.

Can Your Smart TV Spy on You?

Another common concern about smart TVs is whether hackers can breach the camera and/or microphone and spy on your family. The FBI Field Office in Portland, Oregon warns that this is possible, which is why it’s important to secure your smart TV.

A few important steps you’ll want to take to protect your smart TV from hackers include:

  • Change the default security settings, including admin usernames and passwords, and use complex passwords that would be hard to guess.
  • Keep up with the manufacturer’s software updates, which can contain security patches.
  • Familiarize yourself with the TV manufacturer’s privacy policy.
  • Place a piece of tape or other covering over your TV’s camera if you aren’t using its features.

Like many internet-connected devices, smart TVs do collect information about you. But by taking these steps, you can minimize the intrusion and secure your television against malicious hackers.

Camryn Rabideau
Camryn Rabideau is freelance writer specializing in fashion, beauty, home, smart technology and general lifestyle content. She holds a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Rhode Island and jumps at any opportunity to combine her love for fashion and writing.

Camryn is a regular contributor to popular media sites such as Martha Stewart, Food52, InStyle, Taste of Home, USA Today, Reviewed.com, The Spruce, Elite Daily and The Everygirl. She has also worked with several Fortune 500 companies to create engaging articles for their content marketing initiatives. Despite pressure from her peers, she remains on team #NoOxfordComma.