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LG to face big lawsuit over ‘spying’ smart TVs

Written by Felix Im

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LG Electronics will likely face a massive lawsuit in Europe because of the company’s alleged practice of collecting viewer data without consent through its smart TVs, an IT expert said Tuesday.

LG is under fire for its smart TV that collects user data after a user in the United Kingdom discovered that his LG smart TV continued to collect his viewing data even after he disabled the feature in the option menu.

“This is clearly illegal,” said Lim Jong-in, a professor at Korea University’s Graduate School of Information Security in Seoul.

“When you solicit customer consent for collecting personal information, you have to specifically inform what kind of data you’re gathering, how you’re collecting it, and what it’s going to be used for. You can’t just say it’s all included in a general consent to terms agreement.”

If LG was using the feature for advertising purposes, Lim added, the tech giant could face charges of breach of privacy far more serious than those Google faced earlier this year.

Korea’s second-largest electronics maker admitted that its smart TVs were ignoring privacy settings, but claimed that the collection of viewer information was for “personalized service,” not for marketing purposes.

“We found a bug that caused viewer information to be transmitted even after the (collection of watching data) option was turned off,” said Song Geun-yong, an LG public relations manager in charge of TV products.

“LG is investigating whether the bug exists in other smart TVs outside of Britain.”

The British user also discovered that his personal information stored on an external USB drive connected to his smart TV was sent to LG. Being an IT consultant himself, he blogged in detail about how his LG smart TV did all this.

No such incidents have been reported in Korea, but there is widespread concern over whether LG smart TVs violate privacy laws.

When the British user first contacted LG with his complaint, he was told by the company’s customer service department that since he agreed to the terms and conditions of use, he should direct his concerns to the store where he bought the set.

 

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Felix Im

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