back to article You THINK you're watching your LG smart TV - but IT's WATCHING YOU, baby

LG smart TVs silently log owners' viewing habits to the South Korean company's servers and use them to serve targeted ads, one researcher has claimed. According to Yorkshire, UK–based hacker "DoctorBeet," the internet-enabled sets try to phone home to LG every time a viewer changes the channel, giving the chaebol the ability …


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    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: *gasp* The surprise!

      While you have a strange way of expressing yourself, I'm also not surprised. I also have an LG smart TV. I use it for Netflix, LoveFilm and all that crap as well as streaming from a DNLA server on my Raspberry Pi.

      After a software upgrade I immediately noticed they were displaying adverts for fucking stock cubes. "Fuck that", I thought. I'm the sort of guy who removes car dealership's stickers from my car. If they're not going to pay me to advertise their company, I'm not going to. As for people who are happy to pay to advertise Gap or Aberscrotum and Feltch or whatever on their T-shirt, well, I personally just don't get it.

      Anyway, I googled it (who collected my search data, incidentally, along with my IP) and found out where the ads were coming from, and blocked them on my router. The adverts went away.

      This isn't going to go away, people. If you have a computer with an internet connection, you get tracked. If you have a phone, you get tracked. If you have a smart TV or an internet connected car or whatever, you get tracked. The only way you can stop this is to use open devices which you can control, or put the device on a network you can control. The government aren't going to do anything. They can't even make these knobends pay tax in this country and they're too busy serving their own interests. Why should they give a fuck?

  1. Zobbo

    I've got an LG fridge

    Does this mean LG know I'm a fat b***ard?

    1. Thorne

      Re: I've got an LG fridge

      Yes. Yes it does.....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I've got an LG fridge

        Yes. Yes it does.....

        and it has THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR YOU: slimming yoghurt-style drinks, special introductory offer, but hurry up, the offer ends soon, in 3...2... 1

        Enter, on your mobile, then your personal PIN as displayed on the fridge panel, then the unique 4355-number code, and you can collect the drinks from your local supermarkets NOW. And as we value your custom, may we suggest a special discounted pack of bog rolls, only 2.99 down from 2.95!

        And don't forget to set up a direct debit to save yourself precious time by having to pay in store! Yes, it's as easy as...

    2. DiViDeD

      Re: I've got an LG fridge

      Yes we do. We're also pretty certain that you didn't need that SECOND chocolate dessert at 21:57 on Tuesday.

      LG - Only thinking of your health

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So better start renaming your porn videos to Muppets(1...n).avi or even better Lg_get_stuffed(1...n).avi

    1. 's water music

      Renaming media

      shirley rename them to "drop table channels .avi" and similar variations?

      1. chris lively

        Re: Renaming media

        Someone already did this. That's why the URLs return a 404.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge


      Only suitable for those "faust-ficking" videos. After all, Muppets seem to come alive once a hand is shoved up em.

  3. Mitoo Bobsworth

    The only one?

    Has any enterprising techie/hacker discovered this in any other network capable tv's - Panasonic, Sony etc. Just curious to know if I need to unplug.

  4. Mike Bell
    Big Brother

    Ah, George Orwell's vision of the telescreen is but a heartbeat away.

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Smart TV is urFriend and not AIFiendish Tool for Programs and Pogroms. Relax and take a Chill Pill

    Don't worry. Everything is under Command and Remote Control and working as is to be expected when Cold War Warriors do Battle Themselves with Red Hot XSSXXXX Ware. And in UKGBNI jurisdictions, something which the Office of Cyber Security can advise you about ..... that is if you can find any point of contact which is virtually enabled and electronically connected to exchange and reply to sent mail and/or sensitive harvested communications.

    Quite so, Irregular Shed. Spurious spontaneous irregular and unconventional harvesting of massively misleading content is a guarantee of chaos delivery to madness and mayhem.

    And if not a solution to encourage development change then also an application for Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems to micromanage macro disorder and possibly smarter hostile user base energies for increased controlled and controlling powers with imaginative synergies and virtually elusive and/or attractively divisive distractions/sweet sticky passions which breed insatiably satisfying needs and feeds ...... Immaculate Source Seeding of QuITe Sublime IntelAIgent Services to Servers with Global Operating Devices for the COSMIC Application ProgramMING Environments ..... Mined Intelligence/Mind Infiltration Networking Games Grids for Live Operational Virtual Environments and the Sheer Pure Hell of IT’s Addictive Pleasures and Fiat Treasures.

    And it would be pure speculation to imagine and posit that such as is freely shared there is a pre-emptive dump of info and intel in response to what be lost to Snowden from the Wild Wacky West and delivered in rapturous capture to the Exotic Erotic East .... but that in no way is to suggest that all or anything at all there is false whenever all is perfectly true. ..... amanfromMars said... 19 November 2013 21:43 in a retort on

    There's a heck of a lot of weird and wacky and wonderful stuff going on out there in CyberSpace. And there is nothing you can do to stop it with IT, and it would be crazy of you to try, .... so why bother whenever IT would identify you as certifiably mad and invariably also more than just a tad bad if into the servering of live-evil to combat one fears and peers.

    1. Chris G

      Re: Smart TV is urFriend and not AIFiendish Tool etc

      I'm fairly sure I understood all of that!

      This appliance eavesdropping is no different to the hundreds of apps out there that require permissions to all the interesting bits of your smart phones or tablets, they are all potential personal information drains.

      We need a Smart Blocker to filter all the info that leaves our modern devices and appliances to save us from Big Money and our governments assuming of course that the blockers are back door free.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Smart TV is urFriend and not AIFiendish Tool etc


        We need a Smart Blocker to filter all the info that leaves our modern devices and appliances to save us from Big Money and our governments assuming of course that the blockers are back door free. ... Chris G Posted Wednesday 20th November 2013 09:01 GMT

        Good luck with that caveat, Chris G, not being developed ever further to ensure that it become ever more powerful and creative/invisible and intangible and/or whenever needed by those responsible and accountable in the field, disruptive and destructive, for of course that is also a possibility which can be chosen by that which be so active and activated.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart TV is urFriend

      And there is nothing you can do to stop it with IT, and it would be crazy of you to try,

      With all due respect, dear Man, you're only partially right. The correct expression is "there is nothing you can do to stop it with IT alone".

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Smart TV is urFriend

        With all due respect, dear Man, you're only partially right. The correct expression is "there is nothing you can do to stop it with IT alone". .... Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 20th November 2013 09:36 GMT

        :-) Quite possibly so, AC, but it certainly cannot be stopped without Command and Control of IT for that is its Ubiquitous Agnostic Driver. And on further reflection and consideration would I offer a revised correction which expresses the reality ..... And there is nothing you can do, either alone or together with others, to stop it with anything ...... which I trust removes any lingering obfuscatory ambiguity about what ProgramMING in Live Operational Virtual Environments is all about.

    3. dan1980
      Thumb Up

      Re: Smart TV is urFriend and not AIFiendish Tool for Programs and Pogroms . . .

      I have almost no idea what you just said, good sir, but I compliment you on your near-pathological use of alliteration all the same.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The only news here

    Is that they haven't caught the other smart TV vendors doing this yet.

    Seriously, given that Tivo, satellite and cable company DVRs all report viewing habits, having the TV do it is rather redundant. Maybe the really smart ones can tell what you're watching by sensing embedded codes in the audio (like Shazam does)

    Most people never "change the channel" on their TV, unless you count switching from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 as changing the channel...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The only news here

      "Most people never "change the channel" on their TV, unless you count switching from HDMI 1 to HDMI 2 as changing the channel..."

      It's network media played, USB file names etc. not just "change the channel" stuff.

      "Seriously, given that Tivo, satellite and cable company DVRs all report viewing habits"

      Well I've been stabbed twice today, so I guess 3 times isn't so bad! The real surprise is how many people *haven't* stabbed me today! What's the big deal, 3 stabbings, 4 stabbings, it just a little more blood loss. Perhaps people just haven't been caught stabbing me yet!

      Pity, the new apartment was going to get an LG TV, but not now.

      1. dan1980
        Thumb Up

        Re: The only news here

        @AC 7:23 - "The real surprise is how many people *haven't* stabbed me today!"

        Perfectly said.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LG Redefine "SMART"

    Sleazy Monitoring And Reporting Tool.

  8. Eradicate all BB entrants

    Has made me change my mind ......

    ...... about wanting a TV with DNLA. When I do upgrade the damn thing is never going on the network, my viewing choices would warp their fragile little minds :D

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    surprised that

    no one has written a flood lg with realistic but crap information app.

  10. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    DIY smart TV preferred

    As in my case, LG "dumb" TV with a RasPi running RaspBMC - instant "smart" TV without the spying...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why I bought my own VDSL2 router; ISP ones are typically pathetic for security.

    All the better Draytek routers have configurable URL filters and a configurable firewall, so that you can block this nonsense, and it is useful for PC software which contacts addresses you rather they didn't, and you can filter incoming traffic too, to block the worst incoming traffic.

  12. ForthIsNotDead

    Kick them in the balls...

    What IP address does the URL resolve to?

    DoS anyone?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Fuck you very much LG

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Abandoned TV a few years ago cos there was nothing worth watching - rather glad I did now!

  14. Crisp

    Any comment from the Police Central e-crime Unit El Reg?

    C'mon! You're supposed to be journalists! Ask questions!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Any comment from the Police Central e-crime Unit El Reg?

      Any comment from the Police Central e-crime Unit El Reg?

      C'mon! You're supposed to be journalists! Ask questions! …. Crisp Posted Wednesday 20th November 2013 11:20 GMT

      Plod is as Plod does, Crisp, and autonomous independent proaction is not a usual remit they entertain to maintain and sustain.* Intelligence tells them what to do and what not to do, don't you know? Advises as to who and/or what escapes investigation and prosecution for the good of DODgy systems and bank balances or, if you prefer to wander about in the strange world of smoke and mirrors, national security.

      *Despite what PM Cameron spouted today in PMQ to a question posed by Peter Hain.

      PM squawk with forked tongue, Kemo Sabe.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No big deal

    Anything that helps lower future cost of consumer electronics is fine by me. If the resulting targeted advertising means I get more of what I already like to view, great. There could be lots of content I'd like but I'm not aware of. Do you really think advertisers care what we view? Of course not, they are just interested in the trends, to match consumer to producer, regardless of the product.

    There are no usernames or passwords involved so no need to worry about encrypting data of real importance. As for embarrassing content being served up, well what do you expect? Don't do embarrassing stuff while connected online.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No big deal

      "Do you really think advertisers care what we view?"


    2. Swarthy

      Re: No big deal

      Yes, because this will lower the price of consumer electronics...

      Or will they keep the price around what it currently is, and just tally the ad revenue as "bonus money". Why would they lower their prices when they can instead raise their profits, wile still being "competitive" on price @ the store?

      I say "HELL NO!" to this sort of crap. I get "If the service (or product) is free (or severely discounted), you are not the customer, you are the product." I refuse to pay for the "privilege" of being a product.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No big deal - 'Do you really think advertisers care what we view? '

      That's a pretty naive and flippant comment from someone whose posted over 400 times! The most disturbing LG 'feature' is the capability to spy on everything you access via USB!!!! Advertisers do care, and will try to monetize any info they can get their greasy hands on :- NOW READ BELOW!

      "My wife was shocked to see our children's names being transmitted in the name of a Christmas video file that we had watched from USB."

      "It was at this point, I made an even more disturbing find within the packet data dumps. I noticed filenames were being posted to LG's servers and that these filenames were ones stored on my external USB hard drive. To demonstrate this, I created a mock avi file and copied it to a USB stick.....Sometimes the names of the contents of an entire folder was posted, other times nothing was sent. I couldn't determine what rules controlled this."

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Steve Evans

    Oh dear...

    It looks like the days of vaguely trusting companies is now at an end...

    My home network shall be changing from a black list configuration to white list.

    Although a proxy which modifies any messages from the TV to those domains to include nothing but profanities is very tempting...

    Oh, and LG, I was just about to purchase one of your smart TVs... guess what, I won't be now, the Rasp Pi will be taking care of all the smart stuff from now on.

  18. Potemkine Silver badge

    'Privacy may be an anomaly'"

    Before, you were watching TV. Now it's the opposite, TV is watching you.

    1. MrDamage Silver badge

      Re: 'Privacy may be an anomaly'"

      So now the meme would be;

      In Soviet Russia, you watch TV?

  19. joanbee

    Attorney field day.

    LG and the advertisers are probably not piviledged entities under most jurisdictions. So, if I want to know what the spouse has been watching, all I have to do is give my divorce/civil/custody attorney the ident associated with the televison, and they will ask LG and the advertisers for discovery. Yessss...

  20. Stuart Halliday

    Well that's me not buying any future gadget from LG.

    I'll be making sure I tell my friends too...

    1. Michael Thibault

      Flight. Always works. Cover your own ass—it's within reach, after all.

      An opportunity likely to be missed in these circumstances is the eventual application, by actual people, of concerted and directed political pressure aimed at wresting something from the manufacturer—a quid pro quo worthy, perhaps, of Solomon. And quickly.

      That might be a precedent-setting 'arrangement' to allow users to usefully upgrade the firmware on the set in question (e.g. to allow the owner to point the data outflow anywhere they choose), or a general transfer of the intellectual property underlying the hardware involved to the public domain, in exchange for said manufacturer being allowed to continue to import into/sell into a specific country/bloc.

      For me, the issue is not the fact that LG (or any other company) would do this kind of thing; we're really just waiting for the next one to get caught out doing it. The only remaining surprise is the specific date.

      The concern I have centers on the truism that the wheels of justice grind so very slowly, and that legal fictions are impervious/insensate/invulnerable to anything analogous to pain, deprivation, or punishment of any kind. And they aren't subject to the one thing that actual mortals have in common. Which makes it more than a little tempting for big corporations to give underhand information-centric sleazeball tactics of all kinds a go. "Can't hurt, right!" That's what has to be changed.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With the recent revelations of Spying and Snooping by advertisers & governments...

    ....LG must think we're all complete schmucks. They send the data naked and don't even include a remote kill switch to cover their asses..., So who are the greedy executives behind this, who blush at Facebook and Google profits, and long for a piece of the action?....

    After all that's all they care about, its crystal clear from the steps they've taken! This isn't some isolated Rogue Tech, but I'm sure they'll claim that it was, much like the Google Streetmaps execs did, until communications highlighted a deliberate dragnet policy!

    Overall, with such little concern for privacy or the law, it demonstrates how certain manufacturers and advertisers are completely stuck up their own asses. The BBC and others have picked up this story, so in this time of privacy and sensitivity it should be interesting to watch how this tale unfolds..

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It amazes me to think that people pay more...

    ........., sometimes a lot more for Smart TV's instead of a dumb plasma + laptop...

    ...........Smart TV's? .. What a con they've got running!!

    1. cracked

      Re: It amazes me to think that people pay more...

      It's not the Smart-TV buyers that worry me (though I agree, Smart is only a good descriptor for those who are making/selling the things); it's the Smart Toaster Buyers giving me concern.

      * And the smart light switch owners (fingerprint scanner included, so that the power company can dob you in when you let your 3 year old stand on a chair to turn off the light in the lounge).

      * Not to mention the Smart Iron owners (starts bleeping when you are ironing your 4th shirt of the week - You do have another for the following day, don't you?!)

      * Smart fruit bowls (emails your doctor if five-a-day aren't removed and then replaced ... and yes, it does individually weigh and then photograph each fruit ... so there's no cheating!)

      *Smart The Big Bedtime Story Book (emails the authorities if you fail to provide a story at least every other night. 5 strikes and the kid is gone!)

      * Smart washing line (emails the local perv when there's something interesting to pinch ... yes, that one's been exploited; but then what did you expect? That the Chinese manufacturer who got 0.01 of a yen for the line - seven years previously - would carry on maintaining the firmware? You mad bro?)

      Honestly, if this sort of thing isn't reason for someone - anyone! - to pull the "Stop The Bus" chord and take the fine, then I don't know what is? No need to switch it all off; just a decent length pause while we all have a good long think ....

      In ten years time, every product with a plug, in every household in the Western world, will be chatting away to every company involved in its supply-chain. All with firmware that's 5 years out of date ...

      Honestly, someone yank on the chord. I'll pay the $50 ...

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    So what about their competitors?

    Is this just an LG thing?

    You've got to wonder, and I'm sure there's a few people out there ready to check their router logs or run NetShark.

    Looks like it's the same as the UK ID card b**lcks.

    No need to ask.

    No need to know.

    Now f**k right off.

  24. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    I'm amazed

    How did the Register missed the whole midget porn aspect of the story???

  25. Tromos

    Who monitors..

    ...the (LG) monitors?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Looks like it might be time for those with the necessary equipment to check out other smart TVs too. What's the probability LG is the only one greedy and unprincipled enough to think of this bright idea?

  27. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    That is really enough...

    To put me off all LG things... In fact i think all smart TV's should be checked for this spewing of data.

    As for the letter, how can this be a retailer issue - they probably don't know that its sending information back to your servers. Asshats to the max for everything at the moment.

    I bet the UK Offices of LG don't know about it either. I can spot a WTF letter when i see one.

  28. Sceptic Tank Silver badge

    Ah, the "face of the future", was it? The future where advertising will be injected into your dreams while you sleep? Or maybe projected onto you eyelids when you blink.

    It looks like one would have to install some form of firewall to prevent your loose lipped appliances from talking out. Would that be possible? I'm no security expert ==>

  29. ajft

    Feed them false info?

    Anyone care to whip up some suitable perl or python or whatever the cool kids use these days to pull random media names from catalogues -- or even generate some -- then feed them up to LG to chew on? Sure, last tuesday I watched "My little pony vs the swamp monster, episode 17" ... it must be true, the computer says so.

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