back to article LG: You can stop hiding from your scary SPY TELLY quite soon now

South Korean electronics giant LG has confirmed that some of its smart TVs have been logging their owners' viewing habits without their permission and has promised a patch. Hull, UK–based developer Jason Huntley, aka "DoctorBeet," was first to notice the spying behavior when he analyzed network traffic coming from his LG TV …

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LG. Like Google?

No, even worse apparently.

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Anonymous Coward

LG values its customers' privacy

as in: "your privacy is valuable to us", QED.

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Re: LG values its customers' privacy

Don't take it personally, it's just meaningless corporate-speak learned by rote in PR coaching.

Listen to politicians and more senior business types being interviewd on radio and they always start by thanking the interviewer for having them on the programme and then constantly refer to the interviewer by their first name.

Insulting, but they don't think we know any better.

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Anonymous Coward

LG is always aiming to improve its smart TV experience

read: "spam you to oblivion"

and: "sell you, the Valuable Customer, to all that can pay"

and: "while collecting data on how to spam you to oblivion EVEN BETTER!"

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Anonymous Coward

Sony does similar, but without any obvious filenames being sent

I checked one of our TVs - a recent Sony Bravia.

When I browse a local mov file on a USB stick, it sends the following to Sony:

video.avc.none.mov.local.none.pull.010401000104280000000000000000000000008D3601000000010205110201010105023E015E0000000000000D121301000002.51

And when viewing a jpg over a dnla connection, it sends the following:

photo.none.none.jpeg.dlna.none.other.0301000003020A0002000002000004B0000003200100000000000000000000.31

Also, it seems to send what appears to be each button push of the remote, for example:

GET /bravia-e/l?cid=0804020703040E0F07090C01050200030807030C&v=CTV1.0&r=1300&i=0483A52C&I=0E155040&s=PKG3.901EUA&c=00524247&l=00676E65&t=0000000000000000&T=0000000000000000&e=1029&d=1 HTTP/1.1

Host: bravia-e.dl.playstation.net

Accept: */*

This is all over unencrypted plain text. I've now blocked that host on our network - I will check my other Sony TV this weekend.

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Gold badge
WTF?

Bottom line *nothing* should go out of a home net without *justification*

"Also, it seems to send what appears to be each button push of the remote, for example:

GET /bravia-e/l?cid=0804020703040E0F07090C01050200030807030C&v=CTV1.0&r=1300&i=0483A52C&I=0E155040&s=PKG3.901EUA&c=00524247&l=00676E65&t=0000000000000000&T=0000000000000000&e=1029&d=1 HTTP/1.1

Host: bravia-e.dl.playstation.net"

Every single button?

And this s**t does not have that.

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Re: Sony does similar, but without any obvious filenames being sent

So have you raised that with the Information Standards Office or whatever it is that looks at these things?

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MJI
Silver badge

Re: Sony does similar, LOOK AT SOURCE CODE

I only have one question about this, one word, three letters.

Why?

Why report every key press made, that is just silly, what can they do with the information?

The ONLY things I can think of are.

1) Seeing what features are used.

2) If it gets a faulty afterwards - bug trapping.

3) Some numpty left some code in.

Done a search and found this

Sony TV source code

So have a look and let us know why your TV is doing this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bottom line *nothing* should go out of a home net without *justification*

I only checked the flow for a few minutes this morning - for this time there happened to be a direct mapping of two requests for each button push I made on the remote (with one HTTP parameter flipping between 1 and 0). The requests never seemed to happen unless I pushed a button on the remote during the time I observed the traffic - so, taking a guess here, they are related.

Note that I may have unwittingly accepted some T&Cs which allowed this, and there also may be an opt out setting somewhere that I have yet to find.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sony does similar, but without any obvious filenames being sent

Ok, dug through the settings in the TV, there is an option 'Usage History Log' which is used for QA and Usage Analysis. I had it turned on (the default setting) - I have now turned it off and will confirm later today if it correctly complies to that setting being off.

To be clear, I didn't find any personal or other privacy invading information being sent, it was clearly just logging every interaction I had with it.

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Re: "unwittingly accepted some T&Cs"

Unwittingly "accepted" T&Cs are not actually _accepted_

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Re: Sony does similar, but without any obvious filenames being sent

There certainly is personal information there, in fact in the UK I'd argue it would count as sensitive personal information. From the key presses it is relatively trivial to work out what channels you are tuning into. From the channels (for a subset of viewers) you may be able to deduce pretty accurate assessments of their religious beliefs (watching the God channel or Islam TV) or sexual life (watching porn channels gives clues in both interests and orientation).

Based on this it is just a matter whether the sensitive personal information is identifiable to a person, the IP address would be sufficient for this, particularly if the user also has a playstation account linked to a credit card.

This type of correlation isn't going to be 100% reliable or cover everybody but for a sizable minority sensitive personal information about a known individual can be deduced from the data if Sony so desired.

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Silver badge

Yikes!

Big Brother is soo last millenium.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sony does similar, but without any obvious filenames being sent

I normally have the LAN turned off on my Sony Bravia because it disrupts the local wireless and stops other devices connecting (haven't been bothered to find out why). It gets turned on occasionally just to watch catchup services when the recorder has missed something.

Anyway, it had just been turned on when I read this post, so I looked at the router log to see what it had connected to. Here's the list:

applicast.ga.sony.net

bravia.dl.playstation.net

bravia-e.dl.playstation.net

adnetwork.rovicorp.com

cs.prd.msys.playstation.net

imagec12.247realmedia.com

a.ad.playstation.net

I can't rule out that some other device connected during that period, but they all look Sony-related to me. So fairly clearly, there's some ad-serving type stuff going on here. You can see the sort of thing if you look at:

http://www.roviadvertising.com/inventory-and-audience.html

and you'll probably find similar things if you poke around at some of the other addresses above.

So clearly I'll need to block some of this at the router - the question is which ones need to stay open? And since the firmware gets regularly updated, the addresses could easily change. The more I think about it, the more I think I need a dedicated firewall machine at home. Sigh.

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Sil

Clowns

Looking forward to a well deserved class-action lawsuit!

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But...

What if I don't give a rats what other LG - or <other_name_brand> TV owners are watching, and don't want to know thanks, and don't want my bandwidth clogging up with c**p adverts as per Google et al? So - TV ad blockers, anyone?

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Win 98

Reminds me of Win 98 (or was it 95) anyway it scoured your comp and sent the details back to Microsoft. When they got found out, MS put in a patch where you could tick a box to say you didn't want your details sent back to them. Guess what, it still sent your details.

TRUSTNO1

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"...but it hastens to add that no one should take this personally."

As we are not seen as people. Just cattle to farm.

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Anonymous Coward

[internal only]

I just hope these geeky bastards on the TheReg don't work out how much better the tracking will be once we go IPv6 end to end. As long as the Bluetooth can still use their phones to get the data out we should still be OK but someone needs to stop these guys sharing this stuff, the sales department spat some seriously expensive wine over this.

Note to engineering - how much are powerline networking chips? get one in every TV then watch the loosers try and "unplug it".

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What happened to Privacy first

As the titles say, why is there an assumption that the user has to turn off or stop the device doing something. What happened to a presumption of privacy unless the individual wants to give it away.

This whole situation is the wrong way around i.e. only those who think about it get privacy whereas everyone else doesn't. Isn't privacy a fundamental human right and the clowns at LG and others think people aren't entitled to?

Doesn't the European human Rights Act have anything to say about this?

There is probably a graph somewhere of IQ v Privacy which follows the y=mx+c formula..

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So LG would presumably not mind me stealing all of their IP as long as I dont use it, except to decide what ads to show them?

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and the last firmware update 2 weeks ago disabled my netgear wireless dongle so now i need to go and buy a lg one, after 6 months of use!!

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Anonymous Coward

The answer to this is the same as it is for prostitution

Hit the demand and the suppliers wont add "features" if no one wants the service

I would make advertisers and their agents pay for any data they collected and be required to pay anyone who opts into their collection campaigns, if they use data without permission they pay @ x100.

This way they would be required to provide evidence where their stats came from and that they are paying their guinea pigs for watching TV.

I am sure there will be some people who fancy being paid to watch TV especially when beds start posting when they are in use on the net.

Finally a way for adolescences to pay for their own Xbones

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Silver badge
Mushroom

Accepted in the T's & C's

So that's their argument ?

Ok, two can play that game.

I hereby declare the Consumer General Terms and Conditions.

1) Any Supplier agreeing to sell goods to a Consumer tacitely agrees to these conditions without right of refusing or contesting any of their conditions.

2) Any goods sold to a Consumer must be fit for their DECLARED purpose and without harm for the user.

3) ALL functions and functionalities of the goods must be declared. Any undeclared function is grounds for immediate return and reimbursement of the goods without question and without recourse.

4) NO, repeat NO transmission of data of ANY KIND without prior notice and ACCEPTANCE IN WRITING will ever be considered acceptable or even tolerable. Goods of any kind are purchased for the convenience of the Consumer, NOT to improve ad-targeting algorithms of the Supplier. The excuse that better targeted ads are a service to the Consumer is not acceptable since the Consumer has never requested ads of any kind.

5) The Supplier guarantees that the goods sold to the Consumer will only ever use the minimal network bandwidth that it requires to provide the DECLARED functionality. Any other possible network packet type MUST first require authorization from the user before being sent, must CLEARLY inform the user in PLAIN TEXT (not lawyer-speak or worse, PR-speak) of what the use of that packet is, and must refrain from sending said packet as long as user does not agree to its emission.

6) The Supplier is NOT allowed any excuse along the line of "if you turned it on then you agreed to this" to initiate network activity that is not a technical part of the primary function of the Goods. A radio's primary function is to recieve radio channels, sending monitoring data on which channels are listened to is not. A TV's primary function is recieving TV channels, sending monitoring info on which shows are viewed is not.

7) In case the Supplier finds itself guilty of transgressing any of these rules, the CEO, the Board and all Upper Management of the Supplier administration will immediately and voluntarily proceed to the nearest Consumer Correction and Oversight facility and self-attach themselves to the nearest Post of Penitance in order to recieve the twenty lashes of Consumer Needs Enlightment that will open their minds to the needs of the Consumer and train them to remain within that point of view.

8) Failure to adhere to any of these articles WILL result in the formation of a Consumer Correction Group which will, if sufficiently enervated, proceed to the headquarters of the Supplier and enforce a Temporary Local Correction and Oversight Facility with the goal of distributing the proper Consumer Needs Enlightment therapy to the assigned individuals. The Supplier notes that, in this case, the limit of twenty lashes may well be exceeded by individually frustrated members of the Correction Group, and thus absolves all members of all legal liability.

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Anonymous Coward

ICO Where Are You

No comments from the ICO or EU Privacy watchdogs, so business as usual for big business law breakers !

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Small Claims Court?

Perhaps if thosand of US Smart TV owners were to sue their TV's manufacturer in small claims (max $3,000 but can be tripled) citing this issue and accuse them of being "peeping Toms"; perhaps THEN these dickwads would get the message.

If you were a Nielsen family, they would pay you handsomly for this data.

Too bad that every cable company does the same thing with their set top boxen.

Wanna bet their networks aren't very secure? LET"S FIND OUT!

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Gold badge
Gimp

Note "annonymous" *until* they add the data from the warranty card,

Which TBH you'll likely fill in if it's a 1000 £/$/Euro piece of consumer hardware.

Be clear.

This is also data fetishism.

Is it doing you any good? No.

What right have these bandwidth thieves got to this data?

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LG, like all companies, thinks having some terms and conditions and a checkbox gives them carte blanche to break the law

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This post has been deleted by its author

Smart TV?

Smart TV?

I'd been thinking about these sexy new things, but I reckon it's now clear that what you really need is a nice small barebone PC (say a teeny Zotac Zbox) running the Linux distro of my choice and XBMC.

Tha features I want without the security issues.

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