Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Roku Streaming Sticks
Review date: Nov. 9, 2022
Roku is the streaming TV device company that focuses solely on streaming TV. From streaming sticks to connected soundbars to their Roku TVs, they give you lots of "channels" in their app store--everything from standards like Netflix and Hulu, to YuppTV for those can't miss south Asian channels and FunimationNow for the anime lovers. News, weather, sports, classic cartoons, Bollywood HD and Pokémon TV. Roku has something for everyone. They also collect lots of data so they can target ads for everyone too.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Roku likes to know as much about you as they can, but it doesn't stop there with the data collection. Rolu also says they can combine data from “data providers” -- which feels like a pretty vague term that could likely include anything from advertising companies to data brokers to social media -- with the data they collect on you.
Roku’s data sharing is vast, which is, unfortunately, too common in the streaming TV space. Automatic Content Recognition or ACR is the way Roku and others try to identify every show you watch whether it be streaming, cable, broadcast on an antenna, or even the DVDs you watch. They collect all this data to target you with new shows, and allow you to be targeted with lots of ads from lots of places. It’s a lot of data collection and you should opt out. Note when you opt out of ACR, a Roku spokeswoman said, “Opting out of ACR does not affect collection of information about the use of Roku streaming channels.” So yeah, they’re still collecting data on you, just a little less. Consumer Reports also recommends you take the time to do things like opt out of allowing Roku to access the microphone on your Roku remote control or your mobile device for voice-activated features.
Tips to protect yourself
- Turn off ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) on all your Roku devices
- Turn access to the microphone off on your Roku device.
- Limit ad shraring in your Roku privacy settings.
- Do not sign up with third-party accounts. Better just log in with email and strong password.
- Chose a strong password! You may use a password control tool like 1Password, KeePass etc
- Use your device privacy controls to limit access to your personal information via app (do not give access to your camera, microphone, images, location unless neccessary)
- Keep your app regularly updated
- Limit ad tracking via your device (eg on iPhone go to Privacy -> Advertising -> Limit ad tracking) and biggest ad networks (for Google, go to Google account and turn off ad personalization)
- Request your data be deleted once you stop using the app. Simply deleting an app from your device usually does not erase your personal data.
- When starting a sign-up, do not agree to tracking of your data if possible.
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number, address, date of birth, viewing habits
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
No known incidents in the last 3 years.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
An independent cybersecurity review into Roku paid for by Mozilla found, "An enumeration of the Roku website’s online resources and various bug bounty programs revealed a lack of an established vulnerability management system." And, "In terms of vulnerability disclosure, Roku appears to lack a dedicated contact for disclosing security vulnerabilities. Generic support is provided via https://support.roku.com/, though no point of contact for security related issues or even a bug bounty program is offered."
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Roku uses Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) to track what you are watching on TV. They use this information to help advertisers target you more accurately. You can disable this feature, but it is on by default.
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
Got a Streaming Device? Change These Settings Right NowCNET
How to Turn Off Smart TV Snooping FeaturesConsumer Reports
The FBI just issued a warning about the risks of owning a smart TV — here are its suggestions for protecting your privacyInsider
A Thumbs Down for Streaming PrivacyNew York Times
How to make your smart TV a little dumb (and why you should)Mashable
Yes, your smart TV is spying on you – Here’s how to stop itKomando.com
Standard Privacy Report for RokuCommon Sense
Roku leaves rivals in dust – claiming machine learning breakthroughReTHINK
Samsung and Roku Smart TVs Vulnerable to Hacking, Consumer Reports FindsConsumer Reports
Roku is in the ad business, not the hardware business, says CEOThe Verge
Cheatsheet: Roku expects to make $1 billion in revenue this yearDigiday
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