With the increasing use of set-top boxes, personal video recorders and interactive TV consumers will soon face the same privacy threats that now confront internet users, according to a new report.
Produced by non-profit advocacy group the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), the report warned US lawmakers that, along with programming, there would also be a massive collation of TV viewer information, including details about age, vocation, discretionary income and parental status.
Some of the companies developing invasive applications, according to the CDD, include cable TV giant AT&T, Liberty Media, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, A C Nielsen, TV Guide, Proctor and Gamble and Young and Rubicam.
"Through the development of hardware and software these and other companies are creating a new TV infrastructure that will engage in unprecedented data collection, along with new and potentially deceptive marketing practices," said Jeff Chester, executive director at the CDD.
The report urges US Congress to update the Cable Policy Protection Act of 1984 to include interactive television, and to clarify which federal agency should be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Act.
The legislation requires cable providers to give consumers written notice of how their channel surfing information will be disclosed.
In addition, the CDD recommends that the industry should support meaningful privacy protection and that manufacturers should build privacy protection into their products.
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