The FBI will not have to bug your living room; you will do it yourself

“I’ve long felt the Internet of Things would be a tricky sell for a number of reasons, security and privacy being chief among them,” Andy Patrizio reports for NetworkWorld. “People may not like having so many aspects of their lives connected to the internet, whether it’s out of fear of being hacked or the intrusive nature of the companies behind the products.”

“The latest story on the privacy front won’t help. Michael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, has written a detailed blog entry on why he is literally ‘terrified’ to turn on his new TV,” Patrizio reports. “Price actually sat down and read the 46-page privacy policy that comes with his TV. Here’s what he found:”

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect ‘when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.’ It records ‘the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.’ It ignores ‘do-not-track’ requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide ‘gesture control’ for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

More troubling is the microphone. The TV boasts a ‘voice recognition’ feature that allows viewers to control the screen with voice commands. But the service comes with a rather ominous warning: ‘Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.’ Got that? Don’t say personal or sensitive stuff in front of the TV.

Patrizio reports, “He did not name the brand, but both LG and Samsung are known for this kind of intrusiveness.”

More info and links in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When we were very young and impressionable, we believed Mr. Rogers when he intimated that he could see us in our living room through the TV. Future generations might never have to give up that belief; it might just turn out to be true.

Let’s be careful out there.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Brian” for the heads up.]

42 Comments

    1. TV? what is a TV?
      In the world of the sleeping, there is beauty to be found in sleep! 🙂
      You just need a slightly poisoned Crabapple to doze off merrily down the cyber stream.

      1. I presume you mean the NSA? Thank heaven they have only National Security in mind, and are also gentlemanly enough to ignore the feed from the television in the bedroom. Or at least redact it.

      2. Actually they could be almost anyone, Koreans amongst them. The NSA might even be the least of your worries considering the morals of the companies making or linked through the TVs and the capacity of our enemies to breach their protocols.

  1. VIZIO just updated my tv’s firmware with the ability to do most of what was described in the article. When I called to complain, they said it was for my benefit, to improve my viewing experience. I immediately reset it back to factory settings and deleted its connection to my network.

  2. I hope that some enterprising company invents the “Duck-Duck-Go” equivalent of TV’s. Like the 7-year-old one I already have that has no “smarts” or Internet connections and uses a simple hand-held remote.

  3. I know my HDTV is connected to the Internet … somehow … I’m just not sure how. I’m going to look into that tonight – if I plugged in a Cat5 cable, I’m disconnecting it. If it has a built in WiFi connection, I am going to disable that.

  4. Apple is going to build an absolutely gorgeous TV that is easily controlled by your voice, gestures, iPhone/iPad/iMac….whatever…. which works without laborious programing …. and this TV is going to store all your personal information like voices and photos and gestures and history in a “secure enclave” that will cause yet more bitching from the NSA/FBI about built-in encryption.

    And it’s going to sell by the millions.

    Until then… Get the 250 dollar LCD 40 inch from the big-box retailer if you need a new TV and save the real money for a real TV from Apple

    1. … an absolutely gorgeous mate that is easily controlled by your voice, gestures, iPhone/iPad/iMac….whatever…. which works without laborious programing …. and this mate is going to store all your personal information like voices and photos and gestures and history in a “secure enclave” that will cause yet more bitching …

      1. Wait, what?! — Interesting how the human mind works, and fascinating how the substitution of a single word turns a bland narrative into delicious intrigue…

  5. …Winston could not definitely remember a time when his country had not been at war, but it was evident that there had been a fairly long interval of peace during his childhood, because one of his early memories was of an air raid which appeared to take everyone by surprise…

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.