Connected TV & Data Protection – A Tricky Mix?

dreamstime_11657936-smConnected TV regulation? Meh! If you´re involved marketing or product strategy side of the pay-TV business you probably don´t have much mental bandwidth for EU regulations, national regulatory regimes and the endless stream of consultations. But one thing is sure, legal and regulatory affairs departments do. Cutting edge pay-TV operators, and especially broadcasters, are definitely paying close attention.

Big discussions are underway, for example, on how to ´future-proof´ audiovisual content regulation, the subject of a recent EC Green Paper consultation on ¨Audiovisual Convergence¨. Associations representing digital media and internet have responded, as have substantive numbers of broadcasters, network operators, and as you might have guessed, EU public authorities and regulators. However just three manufacturers responded. Something amiss? Maybe. But here is an interesting story, quite in a different direction, and that is how a connected TV player in the Netherlands has found itself caught out by data protection laws.

In July, the Dutch data protection agency (CBP) published a report stating that TP Vision, a manufacturer of Smart TVs (for Philips), had been found to be in breach of the Dutch Data Protection Act. A previous report had been sent to TP Vision in March of 2013 in order for them to put forward their views on the findings.

TP Vision is the only manufacturer of internet-connected so-called ´smart TVs´ in the Netherlands. Their functionality enables consumers to watch programming on-demand, as well as rent movies, use apps and visit websites via a built-in browser. The CBP report acknowledged that since Smart TVs are a fairly new, there is still little awareness on the part of the public of the risks that are present when using their online features, particularly as it relates to ´personal´ data collection, which include:

– favourite programmes and apps

– programmes that have been set for recording

– views of on-demand programmes

And so, the conclusion has been that users must be asked permission before this data is collected, because this tracking is used to provide personalised viewing suggestions and advertisements. Therefore, the consumers must be informed about how the information is going to be used  – for example – to generate those recommendations.

So TP Vision found itself in the firing line of a regulator who deemed that there was a lack of clear and accessible information. And the decision has far reaching implications for the industry. Read the legal opinion as reported by the European Audiovisual Observatory here.

As for connected TV regulation being boring, can you risk not paying attention?