Given the amount of spying that's taking place within our borders, we should all feel like the most interesting men and women in the world. Unfortunately, it's just not flattering to find out that the government is helping itself to hordes of private data, or that LG
might be looking at our TV viewing habits without our consent.
The author of a blog called DoctorBeets
discovered what was going on and also dug up LG's data collection practices that it pitches to advertisers. Short and sweet, LG tells potential advertisers that it can effectively target their ads by analyzing a user's favorite programs, online behavior, search keyboards, and other information that it culls.
If you poke around the settings on an LG smart TV, you'll find a setting called "Collection of watching info" that's set to "On" by default, DoctorBeets
says. There's no help dialog to explain what it does, but it sounds pretty self explanatory, right? Well, after turning the setting off, DoctorBeets
performed some traffic analysis.
"It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to On or Off," DoctorBeets
LG appears to be sending specific TV viewing data back to its servers using the viewer's unique device ID, and without using encryption, every time you change the channel. Furthermore, it seems that LG even pulls data off of connected USB drives, which would be a serious breach of privacy
What did LG have to say when approached about this?
"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," LG said. "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."