LG Smart TV Collecting Consumer Data
The maker of LG Electronics’ Smart TV previously admitted to having collected information on consumers’ viewing habits, seemingly without consumers being aware. At the time, LG apologized when it was confronted and announced that it does not retain the collected information. LG also promised that it would update the Smart TVs with a fix that would allow viewers to disable the so-called “feature.” “This information is collected as part of the Smart TV platform to deliver more relevant advertisements and to offer recommendations to viewers based on what other LG Smart TV owners are watching,” LG also announced.
At the time, the LG’s then-new line of Smart TVs were collecting viewer data for the purpose of customizing the advertising consumers would see on their television screens. A blogger figured out what LG was doing when he ran a traffic analysis with his LG Smart TV and discovered that his viewing information was being sent to LG’s servers by his routers. The blogger then posted information on his site that revealed that the TV works like a computer, collecting information in much the same way that cookies operate. According to a Digital Trends report, the blogger discovered that the LG Smart TV continued to collect data even though he had activated the TV’s privacy settings. When he analyzed the data sent from his LG TV to LG’s servers, he found that “viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to On or Off,” he wrote on his blog. “This information appears to be sent back unencrypted and in the clear to LG every time you change channel, even if you have gone to the trouble of changing the setting above to switch collection of viewing information off.”
What’s more, when a USB device was connected to his LG smart TV, the file names on that device were collected and also sent to LG. “My wife was shocked to see our children’s names being transmitted in the name of a Christmas video file that we had watched from USB,” the blogger wrote, according to Law Technology News. Although this did not occur continually, it did occur with enough frequency that the user located multiple examples of his file and his folders’ names being sent to LG, according to Digital Trends.
In response, LG stated, “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,” adding that “no personal data was ever collected or retained.”
The UK government announced its intention to review LG's practices to determine if they were in compliance with the UK’s Data Protection Act. LG indicated that it would be releasing a firmware update for affected LG Smart TVs “that will correct this problem … so when this feature is disabled, no data will be transmitted.”
LG’s Firmware Fix: Key Features Disabled If Users Don’t Agree to Terms
Recently, a user in the United Kingdom said that he read the complete policy when he received a firmware update to his two-year-old LG Smart TV. He said that he had issues with the agreement, which indicates that user agreement would enable LG to share what he described as “intimate viewing details” and anything else LG is able to see, according to The Consumerist.
If a user does agree, viewing information will be accessible to LG. Should smart features be used, additional information will be collected, which typically requires creation of an LG SmartWorld account, which may be subject to additional terms. Membership Information may include: User ID; password; telephone number; name; date of birth; gender; email address; address; social networking service ID; security question answers; purchase history; and associated payment information, including credit card information, PayPal account details, or other data. Agreement also enables LG to access Internet search data and LG indicates that when LivePlus is used, it may share some of the consumer’s information with third parties for advertising or analytics.
Now, consumers question if LG is able to provide a product with less features than what was originally purchased, along with a bogus choice to either relinquish control of their data or lose access to many of the Smart TV’s features. Meanwhile, for now, LG TV users who opt out of the LG Privacy Agreement are stuck with a TV that is described as a Smart TV, but potentially without many of the costly Smart TV features they paid for.
Legal Help for Victims of LG TV If you or a loved one purchased an LG Smart TV and have concerns over data mining or lost access to features that you believed you paid for when you purchased your TV, you may have valuable legal rights. We urge you to contact our LT Smart TV lawyers today by filling out our online form, or calling 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).