By: Ashwin Navin, Samba TV Co-founder & CEO

 

Imagine reading this headline: “Your Smartphone Knows Your Location At All Times.”

The natural response today would be: “I’d certainly hope so, I wouldn’t want a phone that doesn’t!” Once smartphones hit the market in earnest in 2005, there was a steep learning curve for both consumers and technology companies to make the phones valuable and ubiquitous. The value of a modern smartphone lies in its ability to enable highly personalized services like driving directions and restaurant recommendations.

That was then; this is now, the era of Smart TVs, Smart Homes, Smart Everything.

In 2010, television manufacturers determined that a truly “smart” TV should understand viewing preferences to make television more personalized. Being at the forefront of innovation in Smart TV technology, Samba has been a defining force within the industry, and one thing remains unchanged since we opened for business in 2008: we are a consumer-facing platform, first and foremost. Televisions have been in our living rooms for over 50 years, so we knew that the learning curve would be slow, so we set out to serve as both disruptive pioneers but also advocates for the consumer, including protecting their privacy and providing them value.

Looking at the potential for connectivity in the living room, we see great challenges and exciting opportunities. The learning curve has only just begun.

Rather than play catch-up with the evolving Smart TV industry, Samba TV has been a proactive player in the space. In addition to our evangelism within our market — among Smart TV manufacturers, media buyers and sellers — our work also reaches policymakers and regulators we met at CES where we’ve launched products since 2012. Since then, various members of the FTC, FCC and US Congress have seen our products, engaged with us and participated in public workshops with us.

Additionally we engaged Julie Brill, one of the world’s foremost experts on privacy, as our own attorney after she left the Commission to analyze and further improve our privacy approach. Her take on our privacy and data practices:

“Samba TV is taking responsible steps to promote consumer privacy in its Integrated TV Services and throughout the organization.” – Julie Brill

In 2016, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took the CES stage with Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro to discuss privacy and other topics, and voiced his appreciation for Samba’s opt-in privacy policy, which was uniquely transparent compared to the rest of the industry.

Our privacy approach has been shaped by engaging with thoughtful attorneys, congressional staff and regulators who share our values and our belief that in order for a consumer-facing technology to be adopted, it must first be trusted.

We are not interested in being satisfactory or average with respect to privacy. We strive to be one of the most privacy-centric voices in our ecosystem and we have a long track record for doing so. Samba TV has made, and will continue to make, innovations and improvements to our products based upon the guidance we received from customers and policymakers alike, and we will use them to keep leading our industry.

Just this week Leigh M. Freund, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Network Advertising Initiative, the leading self-regulatory association dedicated to responsible data collection and its use for digital advertising, released this statement:

“Samba TV has been at the forefront of Smart TV privacy and has worked with NAI as a pioneer to establish pro-consumer standards in an emerging and important new space. Samba was the first Smart TV company to join the NAI, and is an industry thought leader in developing responsible data collection and use practices for Smart TV advertising. Samba’s products put consumers first, and we have found their team to be thoughtful and interested in building a long-term business that balances the interests of consumers with advertisers. In addition, Samba has participated in NAI’s rigorous compliance process, involving, among other things, review and examination of their opt-in and opt-out procedures, and has taken their responsibilities as an NAI member seriously. We look forward to continued close work with Samba TV as this nascent industry continues to evolve and innovate.”

FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen and Ashwin Navin at CES 2017

 

Former FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez reviewing Samba TV’s user interface

 

Ashwin Navin and former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler