Telly’s Privacy Policy Red Flags “Free” Smart TV Startup With Ads

In a bold move, a new hardware startup called Telly has stepped onto the scene, offering half a million of its brand-new smart televisions for free. While the allure of free television may be tempting, it’s essential to understand the privacy policy red flags associated with Telly’s offer.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Telly’s business model revolves around providing free smart TVs to users in exchange for displaying ads on a second display positioned below the main one.

This ad revenue helps cover the costs of the free televisions, allowing consumers to access high-quality smart TVs without any upfront expenses.

Privacy Policy Red Flags for Startup Telly

Given the rising concerns over data privacy and security, examining Telly’s privacy policies to protect your data closely is essential. With this in mind, in this blog post, we will delve into the details of Telly’s free smart TV, how it works, and the concerning aspects of its privacy policy.

What’s Telly’s Free Smart TV All About? How does it work?

For those looking for a smart TV without spending a dime, Telly has a tempting offer. The company provides half a million of its brand-new 55-inch smart TVs for free. The catch? These free TVs have an additional display below the main screen that displays ads while you enjoy your favorite shows. It’s a bold move that raises eyebrows, but let’s look at how Telly’s free smart TV works.

You’ll need to sign up for Telly’s offer.

That includes answering some survey questions, allowing them to share your viewing habits with the marketers and advertisers — and that’s it.

The TV is fitted with two screens; the main screen will show the content, while a smaller display below it will start to show ads. The ad display will show relevant ads tailored to capture the viewer’s attention, allowing Telly to earn revenue and cover the costs of the free televisions.

The ads displayed on the secondary display come in two forms: video and static. For the video ads, you’ll see a short video clip playing in the corner of the screen while you watch your show. You’ll see images tailored to your viewing habits for the static ads. That means that Telly is collecting data on your viewing habits and using it to show ads more likely to capture your attention.

Telly also offers an additional service where you can customize the look of your TV.

When you select this option, the company will collect additional data on your preferences and use it to tailor the TV’s design. This includes wallpapers, animations, menu designs, and other features.

Finally, Telly’s smart TV also includes voice commands. You can control your TV with your voice and make requests like playing a movie or changing the channel. This feature requires connecting your Telly account to a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Once you do, your voice commands will be sent to Telly, and the company will collect data on your commands.

What Are The Privacy Policy Red Flags With Telly’s Offer?

Telly’s offer of a free smart TV may seem too good to be true, but it’s important to understand the potential privacy policy red flags associated with their offer. Telly’s privacy policy states that they collect personal information, including sensitive data, like precise geolocation. Let’s discuss some potential privacy concerns:

Collection of Sensitive Data

Telly’s privacy policy is explicit about the types of data the company collects from users.

According to the policy, Telly collects personal information such as name, email address, phone number, age, date of birth, zip code, gender, ethnicity, and even “sex life or sexual orientation.” This type of data falls under the category of sensitive information and is subject to specific privacy laws in the United States.

The inclusion of “sex life or sexual orientation” in the policy raised eyebrows, leading to questions about the company’s data collection practices and its intentions.

As reported by CNN, the line was an old draft mistakenly included in the privacy policy and was quickly removed. Nevertheless, this incident highlighted the need to carefully read the privacy policies of any company before agreeing to them.

In addition to personal information, Telly also collects data related to users’ activities on the platform.

This includes information about the content users view, how much time they spend watching it, and the devices they use to access it. The company also collects precise geolocation data through IP addresses and GPS coordinates. Such data can be used to infer how users interact with the platform and deliver tailored ads to them.

Risks Associated with Data Brokers

Users who agree to Telly’s privacy policy grant the company permission to collect and store their personal information. This data is then shared with ad networks, which create detailed profiles for targeted advertisements. This data is then sold to data brokers, who share and sell the data with other companies, raising concerns about the potential misuse of personal information.

To understand the risks associated with data brokers, consider the case of a mobile app. With the app, users agree to share their personal information and data with the company. This data is then used to match ads with user profiles. Information is sold to data brokers, who then share and sell the data with other companies. This way, data brokers can create detailed user profiles and more accurately target ads.

A concerning example of data brokers collecting and selling user data was seen in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Cambridge Analytica, a political data mining and micro-targeting firm, was able to collect data from millions of Facebook users without their explicit permission. This data was then sold and used to target ads to users, often in a way designed to manipulate them.

Historical Precedents of Smart TV Data Collection

The privacy concerns associated with smart TVs are nothing new. Several high-profile incidents have revealed that smart TV manufacturers like Vizio and Samsung have collected user data without explicit consent. In 2015, for instance, Vizio was found to be collecting viewing data and sharing it with third-party companies without providing an opt-out option. The company was eventually ordered to pay $2.2 million and provide an opt-out mechanism for tracking customer viewing habits.

Data collected by manufacturers can also be susceptible to breaches — compromising users’ privacy further

In 2019, a data leak exposed over 14 million user profiles of Vizio customers. The leaked information included the user’s IP address, zip code, gender, and age. The data was being collected without explicit consent and stored in plain text, leading to serious privacy concerns.

Moreover, law enforcement agencies have also been able to purchase ad data from data brokers without obtaining a warrant. For instance, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) purchased the personal information of over 1 million individuals from a data broker without a warrant. This data was then used for surveillance purposes, raising potential privacy violations.

Trending of questionable data collection practices by smart TV manufacturers has continued in recent years.

In 2018, for example, Samsung was found to be collecting viewing data and sharing it with third-party companies without explicit consent. The company was also collecting sensitive information such as facial recognition data, voice recognition data, and biometric data. This prompted regulators to intervene and order Samsung to be more transparent about its data-collection practices.

Parting Words:

These incidents demonstrate the potential risks associated with data collection on smart TVs, mainly when third parties, data brokers, or law enforcement agencies exploit such information. To protect user privacy, smart TV manufacturers must be transparent about the data they collect and provide clear opt-out options. Consumers must also be aware of the potential privacy red flags associated with a particular smart TV before purchasing.

Featured Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!