Electronics giant LG is under the spotlight after one customer claimed that his television was collecting data on him and even sending photographs of his children to third parties.

It sounds like something right out of a science fiction movie doesn’t it?

However LG has now been forced to investigate how this “breach” occurred. According to Hull-based IT consultant Jason Huntley, despite activating the privacy settings on his TV set, he discovered that his LG model was sending data about his family’s viewing habits back to the South Korean manufacturer.

Writing on his DoctorBeet blog, he said it appeared that unencrypted details about each channel change had been transmitted to LG’s computer servers despite disabling the option ‘Collection of watching info’ in the settings menu.

According to Mr Huntley, a flag in the data had been changed from 1 to 0 to indicate the user had opted out.

He then attached an external hard drive to the TV’s USB slot, thinking that the only notification he might see is the fact that he had been watching material from an external device.

However, he was shocked to find that the ‘Smart TV’ had stored the name of each media file saved including photos labelled with his children’s names.

This information was then sent back to LG. To test whether his suspicions were correct, Mr Huntley then created a mock video clip and named it “midget porn”, and sure enough, it showed up in unencrypted traffic sent back to LG.

A spokeswoman for LG, the world’s second-largest TV maker, said that they would look into the situation.

She said: “We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent. LG offers many unique Smart TV models which differ in features and functions from one market to another so we ask for your patience and understanding as we look into this matter. We expect to have more information for you very shortly.”

Furthermore, a spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) noted that the ICO would investigate whether it had constituted a breach in the Data Protection Act, adding: “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.”

As of yet, LG has failed to explain why it is that their ‘Smart TVs’ were designed to gather data about each and every one of its customers, to begin with.

Other functions of most ‘Smart TV’ brands include taking images of what is in front of the screen and recording all audio within the vicinity.

In some TVs and laptops, the cameras are actually built behind the screen as well as the lens.

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