There’s a fascinating blog post by “DoctorBeet”, which anyone who owns an LG Smart TV should probably read.
It turns out that your LG Smart TV might be silently logging what channels you watch, and when you switch channel – sending the data back to the South Korean company so it can target you with advertisements.
And, surprise surprise, the data is sent in an unencrypted format.
DoctorBeet, a UK computer enthusiast, stumbled across the “feature” while fiddling with the settings on his LG Smart TV.
Astonishingly, DoctorBeet subsequently discovered by examining network traffic that his TV was reporting information about his viewing habits back to LG *regardless* of whether he had the system option “Collection of watching info” enabled or not.
Here is the reply that DoctorBeet got back from LG’s helpdesk when he asked them to comment on the enforced data collection and profiling of customers:
The advice we have been given is that unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer. We understand you feel you should have been made aware of these T’s and C’s at the point of sale, and for obvious reasons LG are unable to pass comment on their actions.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us again.
In what will concern the privacy-conscious even more, DoctorBeet discovered that his LG Smart TV was also attempting to send the names of media files accessed on TV-connected USB sticks back to the television manufacturer.
DoctorBeet tested this by creating a file called Midget_Porn_2013.avi, shoving it on a USB thumb drive he stuck into his TV, and accessing the media content.
Sure enough, network traffic suggested that the TV was attempting to share information about the file being watched via the internet.
In September, The Register reported that LG had struck a deal with Cognitive Networks to serve targeted adverts, based upon an analysis of the images shown on the TV screen – but this does not appear to be connected to the option setting that DoctorBeet has uncovered.
Clearly LG is very keen to monetise the millions of TV it has out there with targeted advertising. But if consumers are not clearly warned of the feature, and given a method of turning it off, the most sensible choice may be to choose a different manufacturer for your TV viewing.
Learn more on DoctorBeet’s blog, including a list of domains that you could block on your router, to prevent data being transmitted by your smart TV.
Do you have an LG Smart TV? Were you aware it was collecting information about your TV viewing habits? Leave a comment below, telling us your thoughts.