Talk to the hand: How to stop Samsung tracking you on your TV

·3-min read
Samsung TV owners have recently been prompted to accept new privacy settings that allow them to be tracked by advertisers  (Samsung)
Samsung TV owners have recently been prompted to accept new privacy settings that allow them to be tracked by advertisers (Samsung)

In recent weeks, Samsung TV owners were prompted to accept a new group of privacy settings that cover their rights to be tracked by advertisers. This tracking allows these advertisers to “show more relevant advertisements” both on the television itself also on “other internet-enabled devices in the home”, according to Samsung’s terms and conditions.

Samsung lists hundreds of different advertising networks, which are all permitted to track the viewers if a customer (ie you) agrees to Samsung’s new terms and conditions. Those who prefer to have more control over which ad networks can track them will find that Samsung does provide a single button to ‘allow all’ networks easily but not to ‘reject all’. This means customers must seemingly wade through hundreds of screens to deselect each network individually if they want to opt out.

When asked about this, Samsung told the Evening Standard: “At this time, we do not offer a ‘Decline All’ option to disable vendors’ personalised advertisements, but removing consent from the ‘Store and/or access information on a device’ and ‘Personalised ads, ad measurement, audience insights and product development’ options will remove all consent from the list of vendors and all adverts are generic and not personalised.”

Yes, we found this confusing, too.

Unfortunately, the settings Samsung refers to above are not easy to locate. Even with this extra guidance, it took a while to find all these options within Samsung’s various privacy menus – and you must enter three separate menus to opt out of personalised tracking. The good news is, we have figured out the exact steps you need to take.

How to prevent ad-tracking on a Samsung TV

To turn off personalised ad-tracking on your Samsung television, here’s where to find the relevant settings…

  1. Open the Settings menu on your television and then select Terms & privacy > Privacy choices > Samsung TV Plus privacy settings > Configure > Store and/or access information on a device. In the menu that opens on the right-hand side of the screen, untick the consent box.

  2. Now select ‘Personalised ads, ad measurement, audience insights and product development’ from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen and once again untick the consent box that appears on the right-hand side.

  3. This step is crucial. Make sure to select ‘Confirm my choices’ at the bottom of the screen.

  4. To ensure any previous tracking profiles are effectively worthless, return to the main Terms & privacy settings and select Reset PSID. This creates a new, unique advertising profile which shouldn’t now be tracking you, if you’ve followed steps one to three above. Samsung’s terms and conditions state, “Partners are expected not to link your previous PSIDs with the one generated after the reset”. Sadly, the term “expected not to” feels like unwelcome ambiguity.

These instructions were checked on the Samsung UE50RU7470UXXU television. Menu options may vary between models.

Switching off the settings above doesn’t mean you won’t see any advertising in your Samsung TV guide or other on-screen menus. It merely means that the advertising should not be personalised, based on your viewing habits or other interactions.

This is, of course, part of a broader trend whereby tech companies now make the options to opt out of this personalised tracking so convoluted that most people will tick pretty much any box in order to get on with their lives. Several firms even purport to make a virtue out of their enhanced ability to show you ads that are somehow more relevant to your needs.

Samsung is certainly not alone in wanting to include this type of personalised ad-tracking on modern TVs. Even so, in my experience, rivals make it far easier to opt out of these dubious benefits. Here’s hoping this approach gets a rethink soon.