LG will stop smart TV snooping with firmware update

LG is working on a fix that will stop its smart TVs sharing individual customers' viewing habits and private media file names and sending the data to LG servers.

One of LG's smart TVs.
(Credit: CNET)

The worrying information was first made public by UK blogger Doctor Beet, who published a blog post with his findings, using the Wireshark packet snooping software to track his LG smart TV's actions.

When an LG smart TV user changes the channel or connects a USB flash drive or network storage device containing media files, the TV collects data, like the digital TV channel name or media file names, and sends the data to an LG web address. The data is unencrypted, and the tracking continues to take place even when a "collection of watching info" option is disabled in the TV's menu.

While the URL that the data is transmitted to is not currently active, LG's servers would still be able to access the information if required, due to the nature in which it is sent; a web server back-end log could maintain a list of transmission attempts, even if there is no response from an endpoint.

A firmware update is in the works that will disable the transmission of the collected channel and file info once the appropriate option is disabled. LG told CNET that it "regrets any concerns these reports may have caused and will continue to strive to meet the expectations of all our customers and the public".

Doctor Beet, who lives in the UK and works as an IT consultant, believes that LG may be in breach of the UK's data protection laws and has contacted the office of the information commissioner in that country. Contacted later by the BBC, the information commissioner's office said that it is investigating the issue and whether it breaches the UK's Data Protection Act.

It is not yet known whether Australian LG smart TVs collect and share this data.

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