Are Smart TVs watching you? - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Are Smart TVs watching you?

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WASHINGTON -

If you're thinking about buying a new Smart TV for the holidays, you might want to reconsider. Some TVs are doing more than just letting you watch.

"I bought this $10,000 TV. I should be the one in charge, not LG,” said Justin Brookman of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Last year, Brookman purchased a Smart TV, which conveniently downloads useful information from the web. But while he's watching it, he's wondering who's watching him.

“They’re Smart TVs, which means they are connected to the internet, so you can do some cool things like Skype or Netflix, but companies are now taking advantage of it for their own benefit,” said Brookman.

Brookman is a privacy advocate in Washington D.C. In November, his worst fears were realized when a British blogger discovered his Smart TV was uploading his viewing information to manufacturer LG.

“We always worried about this,” he said. “When you try to read their privacy policy, their contacts, they never say anything about it. You can't figure out what they are doing."

In a statement to Fox News, the company seemed to deny the practice: “LG does not, and never has, gathered information about our customers without their consent, in the USA or elsewhere.”

But in further questioning, LG admitted consent simply means accepting LG’s terms and conditions when the television is first turned on.

The catch-22 is you can't use the TV's smart functions unless you accept the terms and conditions, turning your Smart TV into a $10,000 block of useless furniture.

Fox News received similar vague responses or no response from other manufacturers of Smart TVs, including Sony, Panasonic and Samsung.

LG says that the entire television industry is moving toward personalized services, which they say requires personalized information.

"Well, some people might like that right, but they'd like to have a choice around it,” said Brookman. “It shouldn't just be LG watching everything you do and personalizing it without their control or knowledge."

At the very least, he says TV users should be able to opt out of the tracking technology.

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