LG to fix spying Smart TVs

LG has promised a firmware fix for its “spying” Smart TVs that send back to the company information such as viewing data.

LG to fix spying Smart TVs

The company said it’s working on an “immediate” patch, but hasn’t said when the fix will arrive nor which models have been affected.

That comes after one UK blogger, Jason Huntley, noticed his TV was sharing information, such as when he changed channels, with LG. His set continued to transmit data even after he switched off the relevant setting on his TV, called “collection of watching info”.

He also found his device picked up filenames and file types, and phoned those home too.

A second blogger, web developer Mark Renney, subsequently found his TV also pulled in file information from his local network.

Huntley said that the information was sent back to LG unencrypted.

LG’s fix

LG said the information collected was used to deliver targeted ads and recommendations.

Its firmware update means its TVs will actually stop sharing data once users switch off the information collection setting. That setting is turned on by default.

“We have verified that even when this function is turned off by the viewers, it continues to transmit viewing information although the data is not retained by the server,” said LG. “A firmware update is being prepared for immediate rollout that will correct this problem on all affected LG Smart TVs so when this feature is disabled, no data will be transmitted.”

The company also claimed transmitting filenames stored on external drives was part of a “new feature” to help it “search for metadata related to the program being watched”. However, it added that the new feature had never been fully implemented and will be removed as part of the firmware update. The company didn’t respond to claims that its TVs also pull in information about files held on the local network.

Huntley pointed out in his original post that collecting such data meant it would be possible to “infer” illegal downloads or adult content held on external devices.

The UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, has said it will look into complaints that the flaw might breach the Data Protection Act.

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