German Federal Cartel OfficeSector review on Smart TVs

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German Federal Cartel Office

Release dare:
July 2020

German Federal Cartel Office, department for competition and consumer protection

With their connection to the Internet, Smart TVs represent many devices of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). Everyday objects or industrial machines are networked via the Internet and can communicate with each other. Even with a Smart TV, unlike conventional TVs, consumers can surf the Internet. One can also use social media, apps as well as media storage and media players. Smart TVs also have the so-called red button function. This red button on the remote control enables the television viewer to activate the HbbTV function, which they can use to access media libraries and additional information or current news.

The more smart devices consumers use, the more comprehensive their digital fingerprint will be. The recipients of personal data can use it for business purposes. With Smart TVs it was repeatedly suspected that consumers would have to pay for the added value of the new technology by means of infringing their own consumer rights. Consumers are exposed to data protection risks if user data is processed without an adequate legal basis. There were also numerous indicators for security risks. Smart TVs are among the most widely used devices in the Internet of Things. Presumed violations of consumer protection affect many people of all population groups.

Against this background, the German Federal Cartel Office launched a sector investigation into Smart TVs in December 2017 based on its consumer law expertise. Companies that offer Smart TVs in Germany are included in the economic sector examined in the sense of Section 32e GWB.

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