Smart TVs can be hacked to violate privacy, warns Oregon FBI

With the holiday shopping season upon us, many consumers may be considering upgrading their homes with a few smart appliances. While some might reach for a smart speaker like a Google Nest Home or Amazon Alexa, some might opt for something that combines that with their entertainment system. Some smart TVs are becoming all-in-one entertainment and control hubs for houses and Portland, Oregon's FBI office is warning users how criminal elements can turn those into privacy nightmares.

If you were expecting some hot expose from the country's investigation authority, you'd be thoroughly disappointed. The FBI's warnings are pretty much common sense suggestions, and some on the Internet have definitely criticized it for being such. Then again, human history is full of examples proving that common sense isn't exactly as common.

The FBI does seem to be focused on the fact that a growing number of smart TVs are including cameras in addition to microphones. The latter is mostly used for voice commands while cameras are used both for video chats and user recognition. That, in turn, is supposed to be used to offer personalized content, depending on who is in front of the TV.

These devices, however, are connected to the Internet and, like any connected device, is a potential target of hackers. Given their low spread, smart TV hacks are not so common but they do exist. It might only be a matter of time and the FBI wants to educate consumers while there still is time.

The advisory does touch on what is perhaps the most common kind of privacy risk, data collection. That's pretty much what you give up when sign up for services and the FBI wants users to take heed of privacy policies and similar. Unfortunately, those are exactly the same things that people don't read out of habit, be it on smart TVs or anything else.