Is Your TV Watching You Trade? Wear Pants Just In Case.

Family watching tv

It sounds like Big Brother but it appears to be a consequence of Big Advertising and some faulty software that no one was supposed to notice. Not only are the dates and times of the shows being watched being uploaded to a central server but they also manage to pull out the names of all the media stored on your private local network too. For some reason they felt the need to know the names of your personal photos as well even if you turned off the data reporting options on the TV.

South Korean mega manufacturer LG confirmed and then apologized for the “error” saying the glitch was a programming oversight and was not intentional. Trying to divert attention from the obvious breach of privacy the company claimed the feature was not actually implemented so no data was captured by their servers. This still does not appear to appease the anger felt by many owners of LG Smart TV’s because it is not like hackers or government entities are routinely capturing Internet data traffic. All sarcasm aside, the ability of the television to roam freely on private home networks and then report what files it discovers to a 3rd party raise more than a few eyebrows. What would stop it from also broadcasting all the data stored on your trading computer? In one simple word – nothing.

The “Internet of Things” comes with a very high risk of security failures as we have pointed out on this blog in the past. Any device you allow to connect to your network is able to gain access rights to other devices including computers and storage drives. Webcams and even cameras attached to your networked TV can be easily accessed over your local network. Once access is granted anyone with the knowledge to take advantage of security flaws would be able to view live streaming video from your house without your knowledge.

The LG TV issue was only accidentally discovered by an individual who happened to check his router for odd network behaviors who then posted about it to his blog. The online world took notice and demanded answers – otherwise LG would never have acknowledged the issue even existed. LG issued a statement saying, “Information such as channel, TV platform, broadcast source, etc. that is collected by certain LG Smart TVs is not personal but viewing information.” Apparently, this is all in an effort to direct custom advertisements and recommendations for shows directly to your screen. However, LG ignores the rather grave concerns about freely hoping around a users networks, and even trading computers, looking for metadata information. In practice, the metadata could be used to automatically download descriptions and cover art from the Internet when the files are played – but then why would they also want to know the details of the personal digital images on your network? LG has no answers and is sticking to their “no personal data was ever collected or retained” answer. They also do not know when the problem will be corrected so remember the watchers are watching the watchers.

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