How to Privacy Proof Your Streaming Devices?

Dasari Apoorva
4 min readSep 22, 2023

In recent years, streaming devices have become a reliable source of binge-worthy entertainment.

But when it comes to data privacy and security, their practices have been highly questionable.

In fact, according to the Common Sense Media research report, most of the popular streaming devices (except Apple TV+) performed poorly in terms of data safety.

It is a common practice among streaming devices to collect user data and behaviour information to provide a seamless experience. However, this data can become easy access for cyber-attacks, third-party selling, and information misuse.

Since data privacy regulation and legislation still need to catch up with the internet trends, we are on our own to determine the pitfalls and safeguard our data.

If you are looking for ways to privacy proof, here is the 101 guide to control and protect data access on the most popular streaming devices.

1. Google Chromecast

Unlike other streaming devices, Google has a standard privacy policy across all its products. The data tracking feature of Chromecast gathers information on which keywords you search, interaction with ads, audio information, videos you prefer to watch, your friends, activities you like and others.

Knowing this can create paranoia about using it, but you can prevent Google Chromecast from monitoring your data by changing a few settings. You can follow the process mentioned below for the same.

· Go to Google Home, click on settings, and select privacy. It opens a drop-down of access settings like location, payment, ads, security, restrictions, and several others.

· Turn off ‘Usage and Diagnosis’ to prevent access to diagnostic information.

· You can also turn off ads and opt out of ad personalization.

· To restrict the usage of your other data Google has, like histories, web activity, and others, you can change the settings on my-activity.google.com.

2. Amazon FireTV Stick

One of the significant privacy threats with Amazon FireTV is data monitoring. According to Amazon’s privacy policy, when a user starts using the streaming device, they gather data on the duration of use, navigation, display size, preferred language, Bluetooth options, and other information for enhancing user experience.

You can follow the process to regain control and security of your data on the Amazon FireTV stick.

· Click on ‘Settings’ from the home screen.

· Select preferences -> Privacy Settings.

· Here, you can turn off device data usage and collect app usage data and interest-based ads.

· Go back to preferences.

· Turn off the data monitoring.

Now, Amazon’s streaming device will no longer track your data for marketing or ads.

3. Apple TV+

According to Apple’s privacy policy, they gather information mostly from your Apple ID so you can pick up streaming where you left off. In addition, other information collected by Apple includes — content you are watching, watched, the device you watched it, location, and other playback activity.

Unlike other streaming devices, Apple notifies users whether they want the app to track their usage when they use it for the first time. You can select no whenever this option pops up on your screen.

Apple also provides additional privacy settings. To access them, you can follow the below process.

· Find and select settings.

· Click on the General tab -> privacy.

· Here you can see the menu containing several features, including photos, location services, Bluetooth, tracking, Apple Music, and others.

· Select tracking and turn on ‘Allow Apps to Ask to Track’

· Now return to the privacy menu.

· Click on ‘Analytics and Improvements’ -> turn off ‘share Apple TV analytics’ and ‘Improve Siri and Dictation.’

4. ROKU

Like any streaming device, ROKU gathers user data and information, including search results, search history, audio information, channels you access, content interactions, and preferences. According to their statement on data privacy, they have clarified that they share this data with third-party advertisers.

But you can stop the data monitoring and share by following the simple steps mentioned here.

· Go to menu settings and select ‘privacy.’

· Check the box with ‘Limited Ad Tracking’ — to prevent Roku from data sharing with individual channel providers like Hulu, Netflix and others about usage, personalized ads, and others.

· If your Roku device’s remote has an in-built microphone, you must prevent it from listening to your discussions and ask permission to access the microphone.

· You can go to the microphone setting and click on ‘access to channel microphone.’

· Here, you will see several options that include never grant access, always give access, and ask permission for access — so you can select any option based on your preference. It also lets you manage permissions based on an individual channel.

Conclusion

In this digital age, cyber security is quite essential. However, the legislation is still slow to catch up with the increasing data scams and frauds. So, it is an individual’s responsibility to be alert.

One of the data privacy aspects you must look at is the privacy settings of data streaming devices. These devices have openly admitted to sharing data with third-party sites to provide a seamless user experience.

Fortunately, every data streaming device has privacy settings that let you change or restrict the data gathering or collection. We have provided the necessary guidance for the same in this article. We hope this has been helpful to you.

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