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. My current Sony Bravia is now around five or six years old, its predecessor, a 32″ Philips CRT lasted nearly twenty, and prior to that a Panasonic 20″ FST CRT also lasted around twenty years, got handed down when the Philips came along.
    Hopefully the Sony will continue the tradition; if not, it’ll be replaced with a TV that has no smart functions whatsoever, those being replaced by the Mac Mini that’s plugged into the Sony. No camera, no microphone…

  2. I’ve got a 70-inch Sharp tv in the basement (the panel is excellent and the price was reasonable). Of course, it’s hooked up to an Apple TV so I didn’t bother trying to connect it to wi-fi for more than five minutes — far too short a time to figure out how to navigate the God-awful GUI and establish that connection.

    I’d love to see Apple come out with 4k television with an A8X processor in it that would make it pretty future-proof over the next half-decade or more (consider that the Apple TV boxes they sell now have iPad parts in them from several years ago and can handle 1080p content just fine).

    I also think a cool concept that might be a bit un-Apple-like would be for Apple to produce a television that has a “cavity” in at the holds an Apple TV so that one can swap out a $99 part in it every so often that increases its computing power. People don’t want to buy televisions every few years, but this would be a way that Apple could continue to drive sales on each unit long into the future, something that no other tv on the market can. So basically Apple would design a beautiful television at a premium price that integrates fully with the set top box it also sells so that you can upgrade the panel’s experience every so often.

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