LG says its Smart TV line is spying on users, but working on fix

LG has confirmed its Smart TV line does indeed collect information such as channels watched and the names of locally stored media files, even if settings are told not to.

The company was called out on the mis-step earlier this week, and has now announced it will release a firmware update in the near future to correct the privacy settings.

Blogger DoctorBeet found that even when his UK LG TV had data collection mode switched to off, his television was still sending information directly to the company. That data was also being sent in an unencrypted form.

"We have verified that even when this function is turned off by the viewer, it continues to transmit viewing information, although the data is not retained by the server," an LG representative said in an email to Tom's Guide.

Essentially, if you have the setting turned off, LG is still transmitting the data in an unencrpyted format, but was not storing it on its servers. If the setting is turned on, LG is storing the data.

The data collected by LG is used for the company's Smart Ad function, whereby advertisers can target their wares at the most suitable audience. Every time you change channel, the TV sends a packet of information about the channel you have changed to, the date and the time. From this, LG can figure out what it is you are watching.

Speaking on the subject of file names being transmitted, an LG spokesman said: "While the file names are not stored, the transmission of such file names was part of a new feature being readied to search for data from the internet (metadata) related to the program being watched in order to deliver a better viewing experience.

"This feature, however, was never fully implemented, and no personal data was ever collected or retained. This feature will also be removed from affected LG Smart TVs with the firmware update."

LG did not specify when the firmare update would be released, except that it is set for "for immediate rollout".