LG 'looking into' reports its smart TVs are sharing private data

LG's smart TVs are sending information on what channels you watch and the names of media files you stream over your network, according to one blogger.

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LG's smart TVs are sending information on what channels you watch and the names of media files you stream over your network -- even if you turn the setting off. That's according to a UK blogger called Doctor Beet, who details his efforts to track his TV's snooping in a blog post published yesterday.

Having noticed ads pop up on the homescreen of his Internet-connected telly, the good doctor found a video online in which LG details how it can effectively target ads based on user data. This wasn't made clear by the retailer who sold him the TV, and it took some poking around in the menus to find the option to turn off, called 'Collection of watching info'.

Unfortunately, the option did nothing. The TV continued to stream data on which channels he was watching, he claims, and even more seriously, the names of some files he streamed over his network (he renamed an innocuous file 'Midget_Porn_2013.avi' to illustrate the kind of thing you wouldn't want LG knowing about).

The URL the TV was sending the information to was not live, so it seems it was not being used or stored, but as Doctor Beet says, LG could turn it on tomorrow. I asked LG for comment.

"Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take the issue very seriously," a spokesperson for the Korean company said in a statement to CNET UK. "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."

I'll update this story if LG offers any more comment.

"Clearly LG is very keen to monetise the millions of TV it has out there with targeted advertising," says independent security expert Graham Cluley. "But if consumers are not clearly warned of the feature, and given a method of turning it off, the most sensible choice may be to choose a different manufacturer for your TV viewing."

Have you got an LG smart TV? Can you replicate what Doctor Beet found? Are you concerned that your watching habits are being transmitted by default? Transmit your data to the comments below, or over to our Facebook page.