Is your DIRECTV receiver spying on you?

Well kinda yeah but not a lot.

I mean, if you’re incredibly paranoid you should know that DIRECTV receivers, just like most connected devices, collect a lot of information about how they’re used. That can include key presses, your viewing patterns, and really any way you interact with it.

This is certainly not limited to DIRECTV and the company doesn’t hide the fact.

Take a look for yourself

Their customer agreement says,

We collect information about you and how you’re using our Products or Services along with information about your devices and equipment. This may include performance information, along with web browsing, location and TV viewing information.

and they have a detailed privacy policy available here. For the moment, this is AT&T’s page, but it’s not expected to change as we move forward and the two companies continue to split. Whenever possible, they try to “anonymize” the information they collect, in other words not tie it to you specifically but use it with a bunch of other information from other people. There are some cases, like helping the DVR calculate suggestions, where your private information is stored somewhere that generally people don’t look. Only the computers really use it. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get. You can opt out of most data gathering fairly easily at DIRECTV.com if it concerns you.

Routine and probably harmless

But this sort of data gathering is routine and in the opinion of most people, harmless. In the past, security firms have accused consumer electronics companies of out-and-out spying. Do you remember when Samsung Smart TVs with cameras and microphones were sending personal information, audio and video feeds to a server even when the TV had no reason to be collecting that information? They automatically recognized text from those recordings  Not only that they kept text translations on servers without any form of encryption. DIRECTV doesn’t do that. They don’t listen to your discussions, and DIRECTV equipment doesn’t even have a camera on it. Simple as that.

Let’s keep the conversation going

Personally, I think that the discussions we have about privacy and encryption are some of the most important ones we can have right now. We’re on the very first steps of a long road with our relationship with a global network, and most lawmakers simply don’t understand the possibilities inherent in gathering and storing personal information. Honestly, I believe that we won’t know for 30 or 40 years. It will take that long before we really understand the impact of the Internet on our lives. So, in the meantime I think we all have to be very careful. We should not give up on some of our fundamental privacy provisions. It’s just not worth it in order to simply be able to watch reality TV.

So, while DIRECTV isn’t the enemy here. Honestly, I genuinely believe they are doing everything possible to safeguard your data. I don’t think they not even collect it if it isn’t necessary. For sure, that isn’t always true of other companies. Choose your business partners well, and always think about what you’re willing to give up. Above all, yes I know it’s a drag but read all that stuff they send you. There’s a lot of information there.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.