Having been exposed earlier today over its illicit Smart TV data collection, LG Electronics has been quick to respond, saying in a statement to HDTVTest that it’s preparing to issue a firmware update to end the practice.
The Korean manufacturer’s response comes just hours after Yorkshire-based IT consultant DoctorBeet revealed that his LG 2013 Smart TV was sending data to the company’s servers every single time he changed the channel, or added a new form of media. In a detailed blog post, DoctorBeet noted that LG continued to transmit data of his viewing habits, such as the channel name, the times that he switched the channel, his location, his TV’s unique device ID, and the file names on an external HDD (hard disk drive), even when he’d ‘opted out’, in what looks to be a clear violation of customer’s privacy rights.
Now, in response to these concerns, LG has said in a statement to HDTVTest that it intends to stop the collection of data at the earliest possible opportunity.
“At LG, we are always aiming to improve our Smart TV experience. Recently, it has been brought to our attention that there is an issue related to viewing information allegedly being gathered without consent,” said a spokesperson for the company.
“Our customers’ privacy is a very important part of the Smart TV experience so we began an immediate investigation into these claims.”
The company went on to note that the information its Smart TVs collected, such as the channel, TV platform, broadcast source, etc, was not to be considered ‘personal information’, but rather as ‘viewing information’, collected for the purpose of delivering more relevant advertisements, and to offer recommendations to viewers based on what other LG Smart television owners are watching.
“We have verified that even when this function is turned off by the viewers, it continues to transmit viewing information although the data is not retained by the server,” LG continued in its statement.
“A firmware update is being prepared for immediate rollout that will correct this problem on all affected LG Smart TVs so when this feature is disabled, no data will be transmitted.”
LG went on to explain the reason for its collection of media file names stored on external drives like USB flash devices, stating that these transmissions were part of a new program designed to search the web for metadata related to the content being watched, in order to “deliver a better viewing experience” for users. However, the company claims that this program was never fully implemented, and that no personal data was ever collected or retained. In its statement, it pledged to remove the ‘feature’ from affected Smart TVs when the firmware update is rolled out.