Smart TV is not very clever


lg-smart-tv-privacy-settings-user-data-1It looks like LG is smart enough to put great tech stuff in your smart TV , but not clever enough to deal with the human factor. After it came out that their TV’s spy on you without consent, they made their apologies. It’s not the mea culpa that you would expect from a customer centric company. They try to explain what has happened and my assumption is that they asked the lawyers for help. This is part of what they said:

“Recently, it has been brought to our attention that there is an issue related to viewing information allegedly being gathered without consent. Our customers’ privacy is a very important part of the Smart TV experience so we began an immediate investigation into these claims. Here’s what we found”

Good it has been brought to their attention, but you get the feeling that if it wasn’t brought to their attention they wouldn’t have noticed. Not a very smart way to start an apology. Anyhow, they continue:

“Information such as channel, TV platform, broadcast source, etc. that is collected by certain LG Smart TVs is not personal but viewing information. This information is collected as part of the Smart TV platform to deliver more relevant advertisements and to offer recommendations to viewers based on what other LG Smart TV 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”

For those who don’t know the difference between personal and viewing information LG has an important lesson for us. Channels, TV platforms and broadcast sources are not personal, it’s viewing. You can see the smile on the lawyers face who came up with this sentence. A smart but not very clever guy.

They promise a firm update to fix it and another apology follows about what they do with the (meta)data on a usb stick when you put that in your TV. They collect the names of your files and send it to their servers. LG responds:

“This feature, however, was never fully implemented and no personal data was ever collected or retained.”

We could continue arguing that the words “never fully implemented” are not well chosen. It suggests that someday it would be fully implemented. But you get the point: Smart TV, brilliant lawyers, a stupid way of dealing with customers.

By the way, let’s wait and see how Sony, Samsung and other Smart TV makers will respond to this. The good news is that they will probably do better in communication. The bad news is, they probably do exactly the same as LG: monitor what you are watching.

Menno van Doorn


Menno is Director of the Sogeti Research Institute for the Analysis of New Technology (VINT). He mixes personal life experiences with the findings of the 19 years of research done at the VINT Research Institute.

More on Menno van Doorn.

Related Posts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *