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LG 'Smart' TVs Phoning Home With Your Viewing Habits
by Karl Bode 11:11AM Tuesday Nov 19 2013 Tipped by newview See Profile
A UK blogger calling himself DoctorBeat claims to have discovered that certain connected LG Smart TVs are quietly tracking users viewing habits, then transmitting that data back unsecurely to LG via broadband. A setting on the TV supposedly allowing the user to turn this function off does nothing. "This information appears to be sent back unencrypted and in the clear to LG every time you change channel, even if you have gone to the trouble of changing the setting above to switch collection of viewing information off." It's worth adding that a researcher recently found that the security on connected TVs tends to be virtually nonexistent.

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Toguro

join:2003-10-23
Chicago, IL

Have a LG TV being delivered today

At least when I'm watching it, it can be watching me.

ctgreybeard
Old dogs can learn new tricks
Premium
join:2001-11-13
Bethel, CT

2 recommendations

Re: Have a LG TV being delivered today

TV overlay: "Don't sit so close, you'll ruin your eyes! And put on a shirt for goodness sake!"
--
Old dogs can learn new tricks!
ak3883

join:2005-08-20
Portsmouth, RI

Why are you watching this show, Dave?

in the voice of HAL
DanteX

join:2010-09-09
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Block the IP

Find out just wear the TV is phoning hom to and block the IP addresses.

Dr Demento
I Vant Blud

join:2002-01-02
Denville, NJ

Can Content Providers Sue?

I am not the best person to consult on tort law but aren't they exploiting their (content providers) customers' viewing habits without proper disclosure and also taking no precautions in securing such information? I can imagine content creators too would take issue off of a company profiting off of their content without a secure agreement. If they through as much of a fuss over network DVRs and Aero due to 'using' their content to profit without providing royalties surely they must be peeved when a TV manufacturer takes information from viewers watching their shows without sharing that information. Who am I kidding, only individual people break laws and agreements. I'm sure if any fuss was raised both parties have already settled.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: Can Content Providers Sue?

LG collects this data so they know which one of their television or media channels to put more money in.. oh wait. Yes, they sell the data to content providers. That is all.

Why? People like to spy, other people like to pay for the results, which makes more people spy. Because a very certain minority of people feel superior when someone shows them charts, numbers, data, metrics, anything that visibly shows good or bad. That way you don't have to trust a real person who in 10 seconds could tell you "this show sucks". Welcome to where billions are spent to advance the methods of collecting stats on 15 year old technology. Innovation at it's finest.
--
Say no to astroturfing. go to their profile, start ignoring posts and ignoring what's not true.
br0adbanddoc

join:2001-12-31
Wilkes Barre, PA

How does this affect me?

I'll guess they'll see me changing from HDMI 1 and HDMI4 on my TV when I switch from my set top over to my XBox? If the tuning capability resides in the set top box, then the only information they'll glean would be in the HDMI stream if it exists.
NefCanuck

join:2007-06-26
Mississauga, ON

Re: How does this affect me?

said by br0adbanddoc:

I'll guess they'll see me changing from HDMI 1 and HDMI4 on my TV when I switch from my set top over to my XBox? If the tuning capability resides in the set top box, then the only information they'll glean would be in the HDMI stream if it exists.

That's what I was thinking. Unless the TV is so damn smart it can decrypt cable box information (assuming that the cable box is even connected to the TV directly and not a switcher or an A/V receiver of some type) this doesn't seem to be a pressing issue unless you use the smart apps on the TV itself and then it gets "interesting".

NefCanuck
InvalidError

join:2008-02-03
kudos:5

Re: How does this affect me?

said by NefCanuck:

That's what I was thinking. Unless the TV is so damn smart it can decrypt cable box information

No need to decrypt anything. MPEG, HDMI and other digital streams have facilities to embed metadata that replaces similar data that used to be encoded in the vertical blanking interval in analog standards.

If the cable STB forwards some MPEG stream metadata (channel number, channel call sign, channel name, subtitles, frame timestamp, station local time, etc.) from the channel to the TV over HDMI, the TV can pick that up and do whatever it wants with it.

The TV's ability to collect data is not necessarily limited to what is done directly on the TV's controls.

Dr Demento
I Vant Blud

join:2002-01-02
Denville, NJ
I am far from an authority on this but I would think depending on if your connected to a simple HDMI switch or receiver it could still be sending information as these are typically designed to transmit as much as possible as video, audio, 3D or any other signal has to be transmitted. If it is a simple HDMI switch then perhaps it is only compatible with streaming audio and video, a receiver on the other hand probably handles a lot more.

In fact, I would not be surprised if LG pulls this 'Smart Ad' business with their receivers and smart media Blu-Ray players if they have online features. The funny thing is I know exactly where they got this Smart Ad idea as well as the name from and ironic that a Brit uncovered it. At least this suspected former Swedish Mafioso co-founded company had the decency to disclose their's and try to push it as a beneficial feature:

»youtu.be/LVc6e1mCa1c
buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

1 recommendation

The Value of a good Router

Just add the site/ip to a blocklist. And done.

This keeps ads off my SmartTV, and Hulu, and Youtube, and Pandora... And anything else that tries to put ads on my home devices.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Re: The Value of a good Router

This. People need to protect their local networks and not trust black box solutions that provide what is expected plus unknowns.
--
Say no to astroturfing. go to their profile, start ignoring posts and ignoring what's not true.

Drex
Beer...The other white meat.
Premium
join:2000-02-24
La Place, LA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

Re: The Value of a good Router

said by firephoto:

This. People need to protect their local networks and not trust black box solutions that provide what is expected plus unknowns.

The problem is, I don't think the average person knows how to do the things in order to protect their network.
--
I'm actually not funny, I'm just really mean and people think I'm joking.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
japan
kudos:2

Re: The Value of a good Router

And the average person probably doesn't care if their TV is phoning home.
DabberDan

join:2004-11-15
Canada
Can you elaborate? I have advanced functionality on my router that just begs to be visited
buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Re: The Value of a good Router

Egress filtering AKA Outbound Traffic. This feature is used very rarely, and is nonexistent on most consumer routers.

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Saint Clair Shores, MI
...and the stream your trying to watch. All they need to do is embed the advertisment inject it into the stream and guess what.. block the add, you block the WHOLE stream. SQL injection 101. but just the same. Any attempts to block the add will violate some EULA that you signed when you took installation of the service and by blocking the adds, they will terminate your service and charge you some outragious termination fee.
buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

Re: The Value of a good Router

Yet to see any streams blocked. Worst that will happen is service will be suspended. No ETFs on the services I subscribe to. Untill the ads are from the same source as the content, it'll be easily blocked.
remusrm

join:2003-04-07
Beverly Hills, CA
spoken like a true 420 head. Why should I have to block or PATCH something after I buy it and then it spys on me without letting me know. The war is already lost with buzzers like you.

IllIlIlllIll
EliteData
Premium
join:2003-07-06
Hampton Bays, NY
kudos:7

big deal

the cable companies are already doing this (quietly) with their cable boxes.
dont ask for proof, just take my word for it.
--
Suffolk County NY Police Feed - »www.scpdny.com
PS3 Gaming Feed - »www.livestream.com/elitedata
buzz_4_20

join:2003-09-20
Limestone, ME

1 recommendation

Re: big deal

However... this is in the agreement with the provider, and is using equipment that they own.
This is a consumer owned device.
tkdslr

join:2004-04-24
Pompano Beach, FL
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Speakeasy

Re: big deal

said by buzz_4_20:

However... this is in the agreement with the provider, and is using equipment that they own.
This is a consumer owned device.

I purchased and installed a Dish network 211k receiver and companion 1000.2 DBS dish to replace my old dish 500 setup. Added my own EHD to record programs, etc..
Being 100% customer owned equipment didn't stop dish from making a 24x7 tcp connection over the internet when I connected it up to net(for ordering PPV).

Needless to say, in short order I disconnected the Ethernet port from that receiver.
Millenium

join:2013-10-30
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

More to come

What is a Smart TV that can't Skype? Yesterday's model.

What do you need to Skype? A camera and microphone. And what does one camera, one microphone, and one internet connection all staring back at you in your living room equal?

.............

Crazy when spooky no longer needs a tin hat.
Millenium

join:2013-10-30
kudos:1

Re: More to come

It's Samsung that already has the camera and microphones in their smart tvs, with facial and voice recognition software as well. There may be other brands as well, Samsung is the one I happened read about.
FactChecker
Premium
join:2008-06-03

What else besides LG?

Many Internet devices now have machine to machine communication that the average Joe does not know about. Think through all the video devices that you have your email on. Xbox, PSn, Blueray players, all SmartTVs, AppleTV, Roku, Slingbox, etc, etc.

Understanding all the M2M communication flows while preventing them from only reporting on your habits (without impacting the service in a negative way) requires highly advanced traffic analysis.

We live in a "google" generation where most don't care about their privacy if they get something in trade or something cool. If the NSA gave away Xbox One's they could spy on an entire nation of "I Agree" sheep.
--
"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy
biochemistry

join:2003-05-09
92361

1 recommendation

We need more Snowdens

We need more Snowdens and not less. Not just government Snowdens but Snowdens in the private sector. Was there not anyone at LG feeling even a tad bit guilty about adding this useless (to the consumer) functionality. Now I need to check my Panasonic for the same thing.
--
Unicorns! Show ponies! Where's the beef?!
MaynardKrebs
Premium
join:2009-06-17
kudos:4

Re: We need more Snowdens

said by biochemistry:

We need more Snowdens and not less. Not just government Snowdens but Snowdens in the private sector. Was there not anyone at LG feeling even a tad bit guilty about adding this useless (to the consumer) functionality.

Hello LG.
Please call 1-800-Class-Action-Lawsuit to find out how much you owe.

wmcbrine
213 251 145 96

join:2002-12-30
Laurel, MD
kudos:1

Mostly what it would say...

...in my case, is "input set to HDMI1". Not too helpful.

Then again, the device hooked to HDMI1 sends every remote keypress back to TiVo Inc.
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09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0
FactChecker
Premium
join:2008-06-03

Can The Xbox One's Kinect Tell If You Are Aroused

You thought LG was creepy??!?!?

»gamerant.com/xbox-one-kinect-sen···arousal/

Development director and Kinect specialist, Nick Burton was asked just how intimate could the Kinect be with its user?

Kinect for Xbox One cannot detect skin heat – rather it can detect skin colour, using RGB and Active IR, and human blush response from that. Coupled with player movement analysis, you could potentially infer excitement levels, but we could not speak to the accuracy of this data right now.”

The most cynical will deem this a gross invasion of privacy that could be used for advertising reasons. The more optimistic could see this as a strange, but effective tool in game design.


--
"Too often we... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy

telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3

LG says this will be fixed in an upcoming F/W update

LG now says it's now working on a firmware update so that its data-collection settings adhere to user preferences:

LG promises to stop your Smart TV spying on you
By Matt Brian, Engadget - November 21, 2013
»www.engadget.com/2013/11/21/lg-a···lection/