Is your TV watching you?

So, we’ve had the press about the security services watching what we are up to, now It seems that the Smart TV you have, may be watching you, while you are watching it.

Many a time I’ve been peeved by the jovial TV presenter who insists on saying ‘welcome back’ after an ad break or ‘nice to see you again’, let’s face it we are the ones sat watching them and they can’t see us…… and we didn’t go anywhere….  But now it seems they really could be only steps away from knowing if we flipped channel in the break or not…..

If you have a LG smart TV, or to be more precise a model LG 42LN575V, it turns out that this sends data back to LG servers about what you’ve been watching even if you have disabled the option “Collection of watching info” in the TV settings menu.

It also appears it’s not just the TV programs either, if you connect a USB device and then play something back through the TV, the filename(s)  are transmitted in clear text to  as well as the TV’s unique identification information.

Jason Huntley, a 45-year-old IT consultant asked LG about the data collection last week, following tests he had made checking the network traffic to and from the device.

LG responded saying they blamed a TV retailer for not disclosing the company’s terms and conditions when he made the purchase.

“As you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer,” LG said in an email to Huntley that outlined the response from the company’s U.K. head office.

Just to throw more ‘mud in the water’, Samsung Electronics Co. ( the world’s largest TV maker) said it does not collect information on files in USB hard drives connected to its smart TVs. But it did not respond to a question about whether it logs users’ viewing habits.

Now it’s been a few years since I purchased my Samsung TV, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any small print in the terms and conditions anywhere near like “your TV has the right to report your viewing habits to the manufacturer”.

I certainly never had a conversation with the folks at ‘Best Buy’ when I purchased my TV, anywhere near the lines of this…  We did talk about software updates over the internet, connecting USB flash drive for displaying photos, and DNLA network functions, but I never occurred to me to ask “Is the TV going to report what I watch?”

In my defence, I can’t get a TV signal strong enough to watch TV directly on the TV, and everything is through a HDMI connection to SKY, Blu-ray or my media player, so I only have to worry what the SKY box is reporting…. Now maybe it’s time just to go and disconnect the camera from the PS3, just in case…..