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LG Smart TVs accused of 'spying' on viewers

An option named “collection of watching info” in the TV’s settings is turned on by default

LG Smart TVs may be “spying” on their viewers by collecting information on viewing habits and online behaviour, it has been claimed.

The allegations were made on a blog by Jason Huntley, an IT consultant from Hull, who noticed that his LG Smart TV was displaying adverts which had been tailored to him by analysing channel preferences, online browsing, search keywords and other data.

Upon further investigation, Mr Huntley discovered an option in his TV’s settings, entitled “collection of watching info”, which was turned on by default. Mr Huntley also noted that the option was only visible after scrolling down the menu and that there was no “balloon help” icon to explain the option.

Mr Huntley continued to analyse the traffic going out of his TV to determine what exactly was being sent, and discovered that unencrypted information was seemingly being transmitted to LG regardless of whether the option had been switched off.

It even appeared that filenames from an external USB hard drive, including the names of Mr Huntley’s children, were being posted.

When contacted by Mr Huntley regarding the apparent data collection, LG said that because he had accepted the terms and conditions when he bought the television, Mr Huntley should contact his retailer. LG also said that it was unable to comment on their actions “for obvious reasons”.

However, when LG were contacted by the BBC, the electronics firm said that is was “looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent” and that they would further comment “shortly”.