LG has spoken up again regarding an accusation that its Smart TVs are collecting user data.Just yesterday we told the story behind the company’s initial response, and the answer seemed a little disconnected and rude. Now the company appears to be taking this privacy concern to heart and plans to conduct a full investigation.
"Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take this issue very seriously," said an LG spokesperson in speaking with the BBC News. "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," the spokesperson added.
In 2012, LG reportedly introduced an ad system to target Smart TV owners, the LG Smart Ad platform. Advertisers can provide targeted ads based on device information, location and the details of the user if they are provided (Samsung requires a user account and presumably LG does too). As seen with Samsung Smart TVs, targeted ads aren’t uncommon.
The discovery of LG’s alleged TV snooping was made by Jason “DoctorBeet” Huntley, a 45-year-old IT consultant in the UK. He came across a corporate video that detailed LG’s data collection practices, and decided to switch off a specific data collection feature on his Smart TV. But he then realized, by monitoring internet traffic to and from the device, that information was still being sent unencrypted to LG servers. He even discovered that LG keeps track of video and audio files stored on a connected external drive.
Huntley believes that even if LG isn’t inspecting the data, the practice could still pose as a security risk, as hackers could take advantage of the method. "I can't prove that this was being actively logged by LG, but nevertheless it was being transmitted in the clear across the internet's backbone to wherever the servers are located," he told BBC News.
When he contacted LG about what he discovered, the company essentially blamed the retailer. "Unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer. 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," a spokesperson previously said.
According to the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK, LG could be breaking the law. "We have recently been made aware of a possible data breach which may involve LG Smart TVs," said a spokesman in speaking with BBC News. "We will be making enquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken."
LG will reportedly release additional information about the Smart TV data collection "shortly".