Belfast Telegraph

LG to probe viewing data spy claim

Electronics giant LG is investigating a claim by a British blogger that some of its smart TVs send information about the owner's viewing habits despite the activation of privacy settings.

The Hull-based IT consultant Jason Huntley wrote a blog claiming to have discovered that his LG model was sending data about his family's viewing habits back to the South Korean manufacturer.

Writing on his DoctorBeet blog, he said it appeared that unencrypted details about each channel change had been transmitted to LG's computer servers even after he disabled the option "Collection of watching info" in the settings menu.

He said a flag in the data had been changed from "1" to "0" to indicate the user had opted out.

He then attached an external hard drive to the TV's USB slot, expecting that the screen might simply report that he had been watching material from an external device.

Instead, he found that the name of each media file stored on the drive, including photos labelled with his children's names, had been sent back to LG.

He confirmed this had been the case by creating a mock video clip that he had named "midget porn", which had then showed up in unencrypted traffic sent back to LG, he said.

A spokeswoman for LG, the world's second-largest TV maker, said: "Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such we take the issue very seriously.

"We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent.

"LG offers many unique Smart TV models which differ in features and functions from one market to another so we ask for your patience and understanding as we look into this matter. We expect to have more information for you very shortly."

A spokesman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: "We have recently been made aware of a possible data breach which may involve LG Smart TVs.

"We will be making enquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken."