Smart TV Privacy-better to disconnect internet and use a separate box?

I have an LG smart TV. It keeps updating apps like netflix, Stan, Youtube etc. I get concerned with its privacy policy statements, basically if I don’t agree on data usage being sent to google or LG or whoever, I have limited usage of the apps.
I have been wondering if I disconnect the TV from the internet and use say, Apple TV, will I have more control over my privacy?

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Yes and no.

Apple TV can collect data as well…

but one can change the settings to turn it off the data collection in the Apple TV app.

But, then again, apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, BINGE and Kayo Sports can also be used on Apple TV and may also collect data as well. I haven’t explored individual apps to see what can be done to minimise data sharing.

Also with the LG TV, if you haven’t logged into the apps, if they do capture data and share it, its value is likely to be limited as most likely won’t be linked to you. And if you have logged in, they will possibly capture the same data knowing what you are watching and what ‘supported services’ are pushed to you.


If it’s a relatively new TV then this may not be a great idea because you will miss out on updates to the core software that runs inside the TV itself (as distinct from the various apps). That could include missing out on important security updates - so once you disconnect, you should disconnect “forever”.

Apart from that, yes, there are lots of good reasons to disconnect the TV from the internet. Inevitably some apps will just stop working after a few years as they get abandoned or get abandoned on your platform (your TV). So you can get greater longevity by disconnecting the TV from the internet, completely ignoring the “smart” functionality of the TV and connecting a separate box to the TV via HDMI.

Specifically as far as privacy goes, as @phb says, it’s just a question of finding the blackbox.

The TV is a blackbox.

The box that you connect to the TV may be a blackbox.

The apps, no matter where they run, may be blackboxes.

The data that all of these companies sell is part of the purchase price of the device, which may even be “subsidised” by the data.

If your TV has a microphone for voice command then disconnecting the TV from the internet may prevent that functionality from working but it also may prevent the TV acting as a built-in, always-on, internet-facing bugging device i.e. major privacy benefit but at the cost of lost functionality.

You also have the option of disconnecting the TV from the internet but leave it connected to your local network (which you would achieve in your router by using a rule that blocks all traffic between the TV and the internet in either direction).

How much you want to do about all that depends on the priority that you put on privacy.


If you disconnect the TV from the internet, you don’t need to worry about security on the TV, but you’d be using it as a monitor only, either on free to air via coax, or via HDMI to a set-top box. If you connect through a set-top box, then it becomes the security issue.

If you leave your TV on your local network, and that network has a connection to the internet (e.g. an nbn modem or smart phone with tethering) then the tv is addressable, and potentially accessible - it’s “on the internet”, unless you have a decent firewall built into the modem and configured properly.

Any of these services track how you use them. They can work out plenty from that, so that’s the downside. It’s your digital tattoo. You can’t remove it, and it’s as individual as you are…


I use my Samsung smart TV just as a screen now, due to the Samsung privacy policy. I have it connected to a mini desktop running Windows 10 and I can use the various features of Windows 10 to limit - to a degree - what is collected. But I only use ABC iview and SBS On Demand. Works well.


Thanks everyone. The security issue is what I suspected. Now with the breaches mentioned in the news it certainly raises some questions. I have a VPN which I can use with my modem, but not sure how I go about it. I’m with Telstra so I can suppose they have good firewalls built into the network.

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I have HTPCs connected to both my TVs - the TVs have never been connected to the internet and never will be. One HTPC contains a TV tuner card and a big HDD and records FTA shows to watch later (allows shows to be watched when convenient to me, ads to be skipped, and there is always something good to watch). The other is just a micro PC, allows internet access and watching recorded TV shows over my home network.

The most annoying thing is that one of the TVs has an unskippable startup screen for the “smart” functions that takes 10 seconds to go away.


That would annoy me, so much. Mind telling us which brand so we know not to buy it? Its getting harder and harder to buy a dumb TV. Seriously considering just getting a good computer monitor, next time round


That’s questionable. You probably shouldn’t assume that they block anything that they don’t specifically document as being blocked, at least on an ongoing basis.

If you want to check what is being blocked then, for example, and choose Services / ShieldsUP!

Providing that you know what you yourself (i.e. your router) are blocking then anything else that is actively blocked is probably being blocked by your ISP.