The millstone of being the focal ’blame target’ in the technology industry is continuing a trend that passes between rivals, and after Samsung got it, South Korean rivals LG who now face pressure following rumors surrounding their smart TV sets.
Begun by British blogger DoctorBeet, it was discovered that LG Smart TV sets contain the ability to send consumer viewing habits back towards the company that made the product.
Claimed to be a part of their ‘Smart Ad’ feature (enabling on-screen content analysation with is focused on directing more relevant advertising based on content viewed), it appears based on DoctorBeet’s revelations that the ability does more than many would bargain for even taking the above into account. This is due to the blogger noticing, upon inspection of the ‘outgoing traffic’ from his smart TV, that a ‘unique device ID’, alongside a TV channel name, was transmitted every time a channel change or activity occurred on the product, with even USB-connected file names being sent over.
He added that while an option does exist in the TV’s settings that can ‘turn off’ data collection, it is an ineffective process, with the smart TV’s nature suggested by DoctorBeet as still sending data back to LG. He summarised: “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.”
While it is also recognised that the URL the data is allegedly sent to is invalid (one which triggers an ‘HTTP 404 error response’), there is still a belief from the blogger that his data has been and continues to be monitored and logged. He has also made the claim that his complaints to LG Electronics’ UK division were met with dismissal, under the message that the ‘terms & conditions’ of using the TV were agreed to.
Acknowledging the problem as a real one, LG Australia’ ‘head of public relations’ Phillip Anderson began the tough task now in place for his company, stating: “LG Australia acknowledges the issues that have been identified in the UK. We take the claims very seriously and are currently investigating the situation at a local level.”
While the evidence in place (including their own admission) makes it hard for LG to deny their actions in content monitoring, is it something that more than one LG Smart TV owner will take a stand against, or a ‘minor frustration’ that has no major effect on the average viewer’s content consumption?