A developer who calls himself DoctorBeet has taken a closer look at his LG Smart TV. It turns out that the TV is collecting information on your TV and online habits, as well as filenames of the USB sticks and hard drives you have connected to the TV. There is a setting option to turn sharing off, but it does not work.
LG Smart TV spies on your TV habits
It is no secret that you are presented targeted advertisement when you surf the web, based on current and past search activity. This is how Google, for example, earns a living. But one should be able to opt out if not wanting to share personal information.
LG has come under fire following a report by a UK-based developer who has examined his own LG Smart TV in detail. His curiosity was piqued by the fact that the TV served up ads on the front screen of the Smart TV interface, so he checked what kind of information the TV was sending back to LG’s servers. It turns out that LG is collecting, amongst other things, information on your viewing habits, online habits, and search keywords, as well as the file names of USB sticks and HDDs connected to the TV.
LG’s Smart TV is watching you – even if you tell it not
There is a setting option in the TV to opt out, but even after opting out the TV continues to send your personal information to LG’s services. In one instance the TV sent the names of his children in plain text as they were used in filenames on a USB stick. The developer explains that all information is sent in unencrypted form and could potentially be picked up by curious souls. But he also says that LG’s servers were returning a 404 response (no answer), although that is not guarantee of anything. LG could still be logging data.
LG: We take the issue very seriously
The developer contacted LG’s support to get a comment on the matter. In LG’s response they told him that he had accepted LG's "Terms and Conditions" when installing the TV, and then placed responsibility on the retailer.
LG has later provided the following statement to FlatpanelsHD:
- "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. We expect to have more information for you very shortly.”
You can read the developer’s report here. It is not clear if other Smart TV makers engage in similar activity. Samsung was recently grilled due to poor security in its Smart TVs that allowed hackers to eavesdrop on you through the built-in microphone and camera.