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LG Snooping Allegedly Extends Out To Home Network

Hot on the heels of LG confirming that it’s investigating an allegation that its Smart TVs share sensitive user information unencrypted, a second blogger has emerged with even more seemingly damning evidence: that these Smart TVs also report files that are shared on the local network, files that are not physically accessed by the HDTV via USB.

“I was seeing the same requests DoctorBeet was seeing when it was logging his media from a USB mounted drive, except I had no USB mounted drive plugged in.  It turns out it was pulling filenames from my shared folders over the network and broadcasting those instead,” the blogger writes.

Whoa.

As previously reported, Jason “DoctorBeet” Huntley, a 45-year-old IT consultant in the UK and LG Smart TV owner, 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.

This second blogger, listed as "Mark", assumes that his own LG Smart TV -- model number 42ls570 and purchased in April – uses a different firmware than DoctorBeet’s, as there is no option to disable logging of TV watching. Regardless, he set up a laptop to serve as a “middlebox” to see what kind of traffic transpired between LG and his TV set. First thing he noticed was authentication to the LG server, and a request to deauthorize the session when the TV is turned off or goes into standby mode.

Once he saw that the TV was logging media not shared on a USB drive, he verified the logging by pulling all files out of the shared folder, and throwing in a few "duds" with porn-related names. He then turned the TV off and then back on. "It was still broadcasting the old filenames.  The TV couldn’t see those files whilst browsing manually so I’d hazard a guess it’s caching some of these locally.  It didn’t take long though to pick up the new ones," he writes.

"Now the clear problem I see with this is even if I did agree to this in any T&Cs presented to me, I doubt guests I have round using my WIFI connection would be too happy with filenames from their shared media being dispatched to LG," the blogger adds. "Personally I’m not too happy that files you assume aren’t leaving the network are having their names broadcasted to LG, even worse so that it’s unencrypted."

Should LG be allowed to see files stored in a shared folder on the network? Should the company be able to see the media you watch even when they’re merely located on a connected USB drive? No. The Smart TV you purchase is your property, and your personal files should not be covered under whatever Terms and Conditions the company cooks up.

  • mrmike_49
    keep your tv off the network except once in a while to d/l software updates - use your smart dvd player OR your computer to Netflix
    Reply
  • elmo2006
    This is just bad karma LG!
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    "use your smart dvd player" - guess what's up next...
    Reply
  • ddpruitt
    I'm never buying an LG again. Claiming T and Cs is total BS, I've know more than one lawyer who says they don't understand T and Cs and they don't make any sense. That's a total copout, my guess is some manager who never dealt with one of the people using their TVs came up with this lame excuse. This can't even be "accidental". You have to put some serious effort into searching for that type of info.
    Reply
  • punahou1
    Its premature to say "I'm never buying an LG again". Most likely they will get a lot of backlash from this and fix the situation. They will have a difficult time in the event sold units cannot be fixed through firmware updates...
    Reply
  • leoscott
    Sell your LG stock. I hear a large decline is sales as this goes forward.
    Reply
  • leoscott
    It's not premature. This type of arrogance on LG's part needs to be punished in the marketplace.
    Reply
  • Achoo22
    punahou1 said, "They will have a difficult time in the event sold units cannot be fixed through firmware updates..."

    Having to offer white-glove replacement of all affected devices, including sending a tech to rewire, etc, would still be less punishment than they deserve.
    Reply
  • LL928
    I wonder how many other entertainment devices are doing the same thing. Samsung smart TV's also have a targeted ad system, so they must be collecting user data too. It seems that the advertising industry is one of the worst culprits in eroding privacy.
    Reply
  • NewbieTechGodII
    Looks like I've added a new company to boycott. Ever since their rootkit controversy, I have avoided EVERYTHING and ANYTHING from Sony. Sad.
    Reply