LG Admits To Smart TV Spying: Will Release Update Allowing Customers To Opt-Out Of Data Collection

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LG Electronics (066570:Korea SE), the world’s second-largest television manufacturer, admitted that its Smart TVs were monitoring what consumers watched in order to deliver better advertisements. The South Korean company issued an apology and provided an update to the Smart TVs that allow customers to opt out of the feature.

LG said in its statement that the company's Smart TVs were in fact collecting information on channels, platforms and broadcast sources used by their customers, even when users turned off this 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 said.  

LG also confirmed reports that its Smart TVs collected the file names of media stored on external USB devices and transmitted them back to LG. LG said that the feature wasn’t fully implemented, and “no personal data was ever collected or retained.” The statement also said that the update would remove the feature from all LG Smart TVs.

The statement was published by Graham Cluley, a computer security expert and blogger. IB Times has reached out to LG to verify that it is an official statement and will update this article.

Here is the entire statement from LG:

At LG, we are always aiming to improve our Smart TV experience. Recently, it has been brought to our attention that there is an issue related to viewing information allegedly being gathered without consent. Our customers’ privacy is a very important part of the Smart TV experience so we began an immediate investigation into these claims. Here’s what we found:

Information such as channel, TV platform, broadcast source, etc. that is collected by certain LG Smart TVs is not personal but viewing information. 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. 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. A firmware update is being prepared for immediate rollout that will correct this problem on all affected LG Smart TVs so when this feature is disabled, no data will be transmitted.

It has also been reported that the names of media files stored on external drives such as USB flash devices are being collected by LG Smart TVs. While the file names are not stored, the transmission of such file names was part of a new feature being readied to search for data from the internet (metadata) related to the program being watched in order to deliver a better viewing experience. This feature, however, was never fully implemented and no personal data was ever collected or retained. This feature will also be removed from affected LG Smart TVs with the firmware update.

LG regrets any concerns these reports may have caused and will continue to strive to meet the expectations of all our customers and the public. We hope this update clears up any confusion.

Do you think LG’s statement about their Smart TVs is enough to satisfy consumers? Let us know in the comments. 

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