Your LG Smart TV Is Spying On You And Your Midget Fetish
IS you new LG Smart TV spying on you? Dr Beet, aka Hull-based Jason Huntley, found that his telly was displaying ads on the Smart landing screen. He investigated and found a corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. LG boasts:
LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences. For example, LG Smart Ad can feature sharp suits to men, or alluring cosmetics and fragrances to women.Furthermore, LG Smart Ad offers useful and various advertising performance reports. That live broadcasting ads cannot. To accurately identify actual advertising effectiveness.
The telly features a “Collection of watching info”. Unless you disable it this is active.
He went further, looking at what was being harvested:
GB.smartshare.lgtvsdp.com POST /ibs/v2.2/service/watchInformation.xml HTTP/1.1
X-Authentication:YMu3V1dv8m8JD0ghrsmEToxONDI= cookie:JSESSIONID=3BB87277C55EED9489B6E6B2DEA7C9FD.node_sdpibis10; Path=/
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.
It was at this point, I made an even more disturbing find within the packet data dumps. I noticed filenames were being posted to LG’s servers and that these filenames were ones stored on my external USB hard drive. To demonstrate this, I created a mock avi file and copied it to a USB stick.This file didn’t really contain “midget porn” at all, I renamed it to make sure it had a unique filename that I could spot easily in the data and one that was unlikely to come from a broadcast source.
And sure enough, there is was…
I think it’s important to point out that the URL that the data is being POSTed to doesn’t in fact exist, you can see this from the HTTP 404 response in the next response from LG’s server after the ACK.
However, despite being missing at the moment, this collection URL could be implemented by LG on their server tomorrow, enabling them to start transparently collecting detailed information on what media files you have stored.
It would easily be possible to infer the presence of adult content or files that had been downloaded from file sharing sites. My wife was shocked to see our children’s names being transmitted in the name of a Christmas video file that we had watched from USB.
So what does LG have to say about this? I approached them and asked them to comment on data collection, profiling of their customers, collection of usage information and mandatory embedded advertising on products that their customers had paid for. Their response to this was as follows:Good MorningThank you for your e-mail.Further to our previous email to yourself, we have escalated the issues you reported to LG’s UK Head Office.The advice we have been given is that unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer. We understand you feel you should have been made aware of these T’s and C’s at the point of sale, and for obvious reasons LG are unable to pass comment on their actions.We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us again.Kind RegardsTomLG Electronics UK Helpdesk
Mr Huntley tells the BBC:
“That’s a terrible implementation of the idea. It still sends the traffic but labels it saying I didn’t want it to be sent. It’s actually worse, I think, than if they’d not offered the optout in the first place since it allows the user to believe nothing is being sent.”
That TV isn’t smart. It’s a smart arse…