Does DISH spy on its DVR/921 users?


Well-Known SatelliteGuys Member
Original poster
Oct 31, 2003
OK. Now I am really getting confused as to which system to buy. I have been a DISH customer for many years. I am getting ready to jump into HD and the DVR world at the same time. Because of many issues with DISH lately, and anticipation of a good deal for a new customer, I have been planning to jump to DirecTV when their HD TiVO comes out.

Then comes the Super Bowl halftime, and the report that it was the most TiVO'd event to date. I had no idea that TiVO could collect that type of data. And I am not in favor of it at all. They claim that while they have the capability to collect individual data, their honesty and integrity would prevent them from doing so on a moral basis. Sorry. I don't trust them. No telling what they will decide is morally ok next year. Or what the gov't will force them to do.

So, my question is, do the DISH DVRs -- specifically the 921 -- collect similar data and report it back to DISH?

Feel free to call me paranoid. I just don't like the feeling that someone is tracking (to the second, according to a recent article) every show I watch, every commercial I skip, every scene I replay. Anybody have any knowledge of the DISH side of this, or any other thoughts on the subject. Thanks.

- martincva
No the Dish 921 does not collect data. :)

Imagine if it did, they could tell how many people were NOT watching BINGO on Wednesday Nights. :D
From Dish Network's Privacy Policy web page:

DISH Network's overall policy is to allow the consumer to "opt-out" and not be contacted with offers by DISH Network and/or partner organizations. If a consumer does not opt-out, DISH Network will collect and use customer and prospective customer information for a variety of purposes including market research and direct marketing, both by DISH Network and partner organizations.

So, unless you've "opted out" E* has been collecting (and distributing?) info about you.

All kinds of companies have been doing this for ... I don't know... a long time?? Check-out,, and look, usually near the bottom of the page, for the "Privacy Policy" link. I think everyone has it and they basically say "they store information about people that does business with them".

So, I wouldn't let this enter into my decision as to which satellite provider to use. There's plenty of other "real" issues to be concerned about. Just choose the provider that best fits your needs and you'll be fine.
Where does that privacy statement mention ANYTHING about a PVR phoning home with viewing info (That sounds more like selling mailing lists rather than viewing habits)?

If you are REALLY paranoid, just unplug the phone line.
It is true, TiVo does record information about you. They publish what was the most replayed event of the super bowl every year. Last year, it was a Coors Light commercial if I remember. In fact, I remember seeing a commercial after that announcement, where the beer commercial exploited that knowledge and just showed the commercial fast forwarding and rewinding and showing the women over and over again. That was apparently what TiVo said it's customers were doing.

The funny thing is that you would think TiVo wouldn't have to charge $15.00 for the service if they are logging information about the viewer in such detail and selling it to various companies.

Anyway, I second the last comment. If you are worried about it, just don't plug the phone line into the 921. It can't transmit info back to the satellite. I thought they said they were going to charge an extra $5/mo if you do that, but that is to charge those people that watch pay per view movies without letting the receiver send billing info about what you watched.

Personally, I think they should just disable pay per view watching if the phone line isn't connected.
I have to disagree with you Scott. I have called Dish before and the CSR told me exactly what I had watched. I doubt that it was pure luck because he was exactly correct.
Was it a PPV you had watched? I can see THAT info being collected, but not pause points during Super Bowls, or individual programs recorded off non-PPV channels.
Dish does not store user data. There is software in the beta software which logs each keystroke (and when) however this is removed before the beta hits the street.

Also since I have had my logs uploaded a few times via the phone modem I can tell you it takes a good 15 plus minutes to upload everything.

On Tivo your Tivo uploads the data when it calls in to update it's guide.
Think about it.

Dish cant get the 921 OTA guide and timed recording function to work with out bugs. Why would they spend time on capturing data?

Now down the road once every time is fix (end of the year), they do reserve the right to capture the data just like Tivo IF AND ONLY IF you do not opt out on there privacy statement.

In other words no they do not do this now, but they may later and not even tell you they are doing it.
Yeah, I may hit the lotto next week, but I think that is just as likely. The satellite providers don't want to do anything to inhibit the flow of content.

If word got out that they were tracking "When Nymphos Attack" viewing from your PVR, sales would plunge. I don't see this happening.
Asleep at the wheel?

The privacy issue is obviously a point of concern for lots of people, though, and E* is really missing out by not pouncing on it as a marketing point to differentiate their DVR service from Tivo.

Further, considering the legal slapfighting over this stuff, you'd think they'd be all over any way to differentiate their service from Tivo's.
If TIVO is monitoring individual customer usage, I think that I'll pass on their product! :no

Just hoping that Dish can shake the bugs out of the 921 and I will move up on Scott's waiting list! :D
BobMurdoch said:
Where does that privacy statement mention ANYTHING about a PVR phoning home with viewing info (That sounds more like selling mailing lists rather than viewing habits)?

If you are REALLY paranoid, just unplug the phone line.

The whole point of my post was to point out that, if you're someone paranoid about information being collected about you ... take a deep breath ... pretty much every company does it already and they just don't publish stats about it like Tivo just did.

Anyone ever use a grocery store "reward" card? If you shop at any major grocery store you're pretty much forced to use one OR pay much higher for what you buy. Sure, I don't like them and at first, made a point to go to stores that didn't require them ... until they ALL started using them.

Hey, do what you want but anyone you do business with collects info about you AND uses it to their advantage (marketing products to you, selling info to others, whatever...)

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