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Report

25 Aug 2021

Author:
Girard Kelly, Jeff Graham, Jill Bronfman & Steve Garton, Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media finds streaming apps & devices put privacy of children at risk

Photo: Canva

“Privacy of Streaming Apps and Devices: Watching TV that Watches Us”, August 2021.

… [C]hildren and students might use a parent's mobile device and parent's account to stream free media content or tutorials, which may result in the collection of behavioral information about their viewing habits and interactions with content that could lead to privacy risks and harms…

What are streaming services?

We evaluated the privacy policies of the top 10 streaming apps: Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Max, Peacock, Amazon Prime Video, Discovery+, Hulu, and Netflix…

Many viewers know that free streaming apps are most likely selling their personal information, but most viewers may not know that most paid subscription streaming apps are also selling users' data…

Privacy and security are intertwined... When evaluating whether to have children use streaming apps at home or in the classroom, parents and teachers need to understand both the privacy policies and security practices of the device…

Our privacy evaluations… indicate that all streaming apps (except Apple TV+) have privacy practices that put consumers' privacy at considerable risk including selling data, sending third‐party marketing communications, displaying targeted advertisements, tracking users across other sites and services, and creating advertising profiles for data brokers…

What are streaming devices?

We tested the following five [streaming] devices: Apple TV, Google TV, Amazon Fire TV Cube, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Nvidia Shield TV…

Our privacy evaluations… indicate that all streaming devices—except Apple TV—have privacy practices that put consumers' privacy at considerable risk including selling data, sending third‐party marketing communications, displaying targeted advertisements, tracking users across other sites and services, and creating advertising profiles for data brokers. The collection of behavioral information about viewing habits and interactions with streaming devices for advertising and tracking purposes could lead to privacy risks and harms…

What should streaming apps and devices do?

There are several industry best privacy practices that streaming app and device companies can adopt to… earn their consumers' trust as a product that respects their privacy and the privacy of their children… A company should disclose in their privacy policy all of the following best practices:

  • No selling data…
  • No third‐party marketing communications…
  • No displaying targeted advertising…
  • No third‐party tracking…
  • No tracking across apps…
  • No data profiling…