A Startup Is Giving Away TVs for Free — But There’s a Big Catch

Would you sign up to snag a 55-inch TV for free?

Startup Telly is banking on it: It plans to start giving away its Dual Screen Smart TVs this summer — to those who are willing to see ads running on the additional screen beneath the main monitor and share a significant amount of their personal data, CNN Business reported.

Related: 4 Essentials for Complying With the New Data Privacy Regulations

Telly, launched in 2021, is able to offer the TVs for free — 500,000 of them to start — because the cost is subsidized by those ads. The company says other TV manufacturers are making money off consumers’ advertising and data already and that its model allows people to “share that value proposition.”

Telly not only collects that viewing data but also an extensive range of data at the individual household level: contact information, cultural or social identifiers like favored sports teams, IP address, gender, political opinions and sexual orientation.

Following CNN’s report, the company said the question of sexual orientation has been removed from its privacy policy and that it was not asked of any customers.

But the revision and other mistaken annotations in Telly’s privacy policy are raising some serious red flags, per TechCrunch. A section screenshotted by one journalist before any edits were made reveals the policy’s questionable accuracy and the company’s desire “for another way around [it].”

Via email, Telly chief strategy officer Dallas Lawrence told TechCrunch the policy was an old draft uploaded in error.

Related: Does Customer Data Privacy Actually Matter? It Should. | Entrepreneur

Ilya Pozin, founder and CEO of Telly, also co-founded Pluto TV, a free ad-supported streaming service that was acquired by Viacom in 2019 for $340 million.

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