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IT Expert Proves LG Smart TVs Are Surveillance Devices -

Suzanne Posel

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Nov. 29, 2013

Jason Huntley, an information technologies consultant in the UK revealed how the LG smart television sends customer surveillance data to LG Electronics Inc.

Huntley explained: “the company continued to collect which channel he was watching even after he disabled the information collection feature. The (LG) server acknowledges the successful receipt of this information back to the TV. The information appeared to be sent to LG unencrypted.”












IT Expert Proves LG Smart TVs Are Surveillance Devices

In a part of the menu called “collection of watching info” Huntley discovered that regardless of turning the option off, data was still being sent to LG computer servers.

Huntley commented: “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 opt-out in the first place since it allows the user to believe nothing is being sent.”

Other data stored included:

• Customer names of files

• Unique identification customer information

• Specialized tracking numbers for the specific TV

By utilizing a USB external drive, all this information could be taken directly from the unit.

LG responded to Huntley, saying: “As you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer.”

Due to the attention Huntley has brought to the issue, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have taken up the cause and are conducting an investigation into the claims.

The ICO stated: “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.”

LG responded, asserting that “customer privacy is a top priority” and “we take this issue very seriously”.

Other corporations have turned their products into surveillance devices to watch their customers.

Verizon has patented technology that turns a DVR into a personal spying tool to watch Americans in their own homes.

Verizon calls this endeavor FierceCable that is able to display “acute sensitivity in customers’ living rooms: argument sounds prompt ads for marriage counseling, and sounds of cuddling.”

Verizon explains: “If the detection system determines that a couple is arguing, a service provider would be able to send an ad for marriage counseling to a TV or mobile device in the room. If the couple utters words that indicate they are cuddling, they would receive ads for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers, or commercials for romantic movies.”

The patent is entitled “Methods and Systems for Presenting an Advertisement Associated with an Ambient Action of a User” and filed by Brian F. Roberts who invented the technology on behalf of Verizon Patent and Licensing INC.

Under the guise of perfecting marketing and advertising, the spying “method includes a media content presentation system presenting a media content program comprising an advertisement break, detecting an ambient action performed by a user during the presentation of the media content program, selecting an advertisement associated with the detected ambient action, and presenting the selected advertisement during the advertisement break.”

In home ambient activities such as “eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, singing, humming, cleaning, and playing a musical instrument; as well as cuddling, fighting, participating in a game or sporting event” can be surveilled using this technology. All cellular phones can interact with this device as a separate mode of surveillance.

Information associated with the user, such as gesture, profile, voice and facial recognition are methods that can identify the user which will produce the most effective advertisement based on the “media content presentation system” (MCPS).

It is as simple as speaking a word, and the MCPS is activated. Embedded “computer-executable instructions” working in tandem with the MCPS will allow specified advertisements through the utilization of “depth sensor[s], image sensor[s], audio sensor[s] and a thermal sensor.”

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