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Television Privacy

Declining LG's New Ad-friendly Privacy Policy Removes Features From Smart TVs 221

BUL2294 (1081735) writes "Techdirt and Consumerist posted articles about a user in the UK who, after a firmware update to his 2-year old LG Smart TV, declined their new Privacy Policy, only to find that most Internet-connected features (e.g. BBC iPlayer, Skype) of the TV now no longer work. From the Techdirt article: 'Does a manufacturer have the right to "brick" certain integral services just because the end user doesn't feel comfortable sharing a bunch of info with LG and other, unnamed third parties? LG certainly feels it has the right to do this. In fact, it makes no secret of this in its long Privacy Policy — a document that spends more time discussing the lack thereof, rather than privacy itself. The opening paragraph makes this perfectly clear.' To add, even declining the policy still results in non-specified information being sent to LG. LG's policy of spying on the viewing habits of customers, along with sending filenames of videos stored on USB devices connected to TVs, was previously discussed on Slashdot."
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Declining LG's New Ad-friendly Privacy Policy Removes Features From Smart TVs

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  • Send it back.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:39AM (#47056685)

    Return the TV for a full refund. Under UK law you cannot impose conditions after the point of sale.

    It looks like people are going to need 3 VLANs soon... One for WiFi, one for computers with private information and a 3rd with no external access except to addresses specifically allowed.

  • by CanHasDIY ( 1672858 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:43AM (#47056731) Homepage Journal

    Shit like this is exactly why, so long as they're available, I will always opt for a 'dumb display' rather than a 'smart tv.'

    Just give me a decent size screen with a good resolution, refresh rate, and a handful of various input types.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:43AM (#47056733)

    Terms of use for physical product changed after purchase in such a way as to cripple said product? That's called "bait and switch."

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:48AM (#47056795) Homepage

    How would I know if they were selling my viewing habits anyway?

    You can probably assume that if you connected it to the internet, that it is.

    I seem to remember a story not so long ago where even if you said "no, I don't want to", some devices did anyway.

    Assume corporations are greedy and evil, and don't give a damn what you want. They probably are.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:52AM (#47056841) Homepage

    The answer is never buy a smart TV. They offer no advantages over a dumb TV and a Roku box and only offer disadvantages.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @12:04PM (#47056989) Journal

    Terms of use for physical product changed after purchase in such a way as to cripple said product? That's called "bait and switch."

    Ho ho ho! Silly consumer! Does the physical product you purchased look at all crippled to you? Every pixel and transistor and unecessarily ugly bezel is exactly as it should be! It's only the software, which is licensed, not sold, and subject to the terms and conditions of the EULA, modifiable at any time by us, without notice, that has changed!

    (And this is why the 'licensed not sold' bullshit with software is ultimately so dangerous. If it just applied to stuff you bought on floppy disks and shoved into a computer, it'd be mostly a nuisance with occasional abuses. The fact that the same legal reasoning can be extended to cover firmware, which is just as much software; but also more or less entirely critical to the operation of a very large, and increasing, percentage of the 'hardware' devices you 'own', is where it really shows its teeth. Nearly anything of nontrivial complexity probably has some firmware in it somewhere, without which it isn't much good, and for which your replacement options are limited, sometimes by obscurity, sometimes by crypto bootloaders, which rather undermines the 'ownership' you might hope to have.)

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @12:08PM (#47057025) Homepage

    Nothing says that even after "dumb TVs" are no longer available, that you can't turn a "smart TV" into a dumb one. It's called not giving access to your WiFi

    Right up until they put something in the TV which says "I haven't connected to the internet in a while, I'm stopping working until I do". Kinda like Microsoft was talking about with the XBone.

    Of course, it's only a matter of time before a TV manufacturer puts in a SIM card into a TV and broadcasts over cellular

    And to whom would the phone companies send the bill? No way they're giving something free access to the cellular network ... and no way I'd pay for it.

    The point of the SIM is to figure out who to bill. I don't think they could just sneakily connect to it without someone paying for it.

    Suddenly I'm thinking of Reg the Blank from Max Headroom and thinking he had the right idea.

  • by erikkemperman ( 252014 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @12:12PM (#47057075)

    srsly, some tvs have a video camera for skype? talk about a telescreen. you never know when they're watching, so you have to assume they're watching all the time.

    Yeah mine has a camera and mic. But I have duct tape, so that's all right.

  • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @12:40PM (#47057377) Homepage
    Copyright law actually makes an explicit exception for copying e.g. to RAM in the course of normal use. So that line will not hold up on court.
  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @01:06PM (#47057631) Homepage

    It's kinda hard to have any sympathy when only an idiot connects these 'smart' consumer devices to the internet in the first place. These devices do not have any functionality that I can't already get simply using a Roku or AppleTV or Airplay or Chromecast.

    I have a bunch of these... VCRs, Receivers (for the integrated Pandora), etc. I leave them all disconnected from the internet, and so should everyone.

    Having just one media device be connected to the internet is kinda like picking your poison, but at least you have a choice. And something like a Roku or an AppleTV is going to be far, *far* more secure than the crap you find in VCRs and SmartTVs and other devices of that ilk.


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