LG Smart TVs spying on viewers

LG_SmartTV_500A UK ICT consultant – Hull-based Jason Huntley – found by accident that his LG Smart TV was spying on him and sending extensive information about his TV viewing back to the Korean manufacturer.

In his personal blog, DoctorBeet’s Blog, Huntley wrote about how his Smart TV was sending data about which channels were being watched, but also how his TV uploaded information about the contents of devices attached to the TV, such as an external hard drive.

The consultant started to investigate the behaviour of his smart TV set after he noticed that the set began offering personalised advertisements and viewing suggestions. He found that his TV set has a default setting giving permission to send these data to LG.

But after switching the setting to not giving permission, the TV set continued to send back information to LG’s servers with details about each channel change, but this time a flag in the data had been changed from “1” to “0” to indicate the user had opted out.

Following enquiries with the company, a spokesperson for LG wrote in an email “Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take the issue very seriously.

“We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent. LG offers many unique Smart TV models which differ in features and functions from one market to another so we ask for your patience and understanding as we look into this matter.”

LG’s practice might breach the UK’s Data Protection Act, but this is not the first time that reports of smart TVs snooping into viewer’s TV watching.

Last August, the Dutch privacy watchdog CBP, has carried out an investigation and has concluded that TP Vision, the manufacturer of Philips smart TVs, gives viewers insufficient and incomplete information about the processing of their personal data via smart TVs.

Meanwhile, the manufacturer has made modifications on the way it stores user information. A spokesperson for the CBP told Broadband TV News that they agency is monitoring TP Vision if they are complying with the law.