LG admits smart TV secretly monitors viewing habits

Electronics firm LG has apologised to customers after admitting that it collected data on viewing habits without their knowledge.

Jason Huntley, a UK-based IT consultant, first reported the discovery on his blog after he noticed that his new LG Smart TV was targeting ads at him on the Smart landing screen.

His investigation revealed that LG was collecting information about his viewing habits and sending it unencrypted to its servers in order to profile customers and target ads accordingly.

When Huntley first contacted LG he was told that as he had agreed to the terms and conditions at the point of sale, he should take the issue up with the retailer. However, following extensive media coverage, LG launched an investigation into the matter.

"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," the South Korean company said in a statement.

"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.

"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."

Huntley welcomed this news as a "positive step". He told the BBC: "I hope that their future products will reflect this decision and keep customers clearly informed as to their data collection practices before they take place."