Smart TVs, smart-home devices found to be leaking sensitive user data, researchers find

Via:  tig  •  one month ago  •  19 comments

Smart TVs, smart-home devices found to be leaking sensitive user data, researchers find
"Nearly all TV devices in our testbeds contacts Netflix even though we never configured any TV with a Netflix account," the researchers wrote.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

By   Jason Abbruzzese

Smart-home devices, such as televisions and streaming boxes, are collecting reams of data — including sensitive information such as device locations — that is then being sent to third parties like advertisers and major tech companies, researchers said Tuesday.

As the findings show, even as privacy concerns have become a part of the discussion around consumer technology, new devices are adding to the hidden and often convoluted industry around data collection and monetization.

A team of researchers from Northeastern University and the Imperial College of London found that a variety of internet-connected devices collected and distributed data to outside companies, including smart TV and TV streaming devices from Roku and Amazon — even if a consumer did not interact with those companies.

"Nearly all TV devices in our testbeds contacts Netflix even though we never configured any TV with a Netflix account," the Northeastern and Imperial College researchers wrote.

The researchers tested a total of 81 devices in the U.S. and U.K. in an effort to gain a broad idea of how much data is collected by smart-home devices, and where that data goes.

The research was first reported by The   Financial Times .

The researchers found data sent to a variety of companies, some known to consumers including Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as companies that operate out of the public eye such as, a company that tracks users to help companies improve their products.

One of the researchers, David Choffnes, a professor of computer science at Northeastern, said that his previous work looking at the data collection and dissemination habits of mobile apps led him to expect similar practices with smart-home devices.

But he noted that he was surprised to see more encryption used by the devices his team tested, a good thing for consumers but also a change that makes it harder to see what information companies are sending to third parties.

He said one takeaway for the consumer is that devices with screens — everything from smart TVs to internet-connected refrigerators — tend to collect and share more data than other devices.

"You can usually install apps and as a result you're going to see somewhat similar behavior as you do on a mobile device," he said.

Choffnes said that consumers currently don't have many options to curtail these practices aside from removing the devices. He pointed to tools such as ad blockers on web browsers as examples of features that he is interested in pursuing to keep consumers safe.

"What happens if you start blocking network traffic?" he said.


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1  seeder  TᵢG    one month ago

This is a very difficult problem since the forces that want this data are often very powerful and are certainly pervasive.   No doubt we will see the emergence of a new market for technology products that protect the consumer from monitoring.

Buzz of the Orient
2  Buzz of the Orient    one month ago

Ah, the perils of not living in the past.....

Sparty On
3  Sparty On    one month ago

My TV can leak?

The Magic Eight Ball
4  The Magic Eight Ball    one month ago

another conspiracy theory proves true...

who is surprised?  seriously?

al Jizzerror
5  al Jizzerror    one month ago

Some devices are collecting very personal information about users:

Vibrator maker ordered to pay out C$4m for tracking users' sexual activity

Canadian manufacturer We-Vibe collected data about temperature and vibration intensity, revealing intimate information without customers’ knowledge

Sex toy maker We-Vibe has agreed to pay customers up to C$10,000 (£6,120) each after shipping a “smart vibrator” which tracked owners’ use without their knowledge.

Following a class-action lawsuit in an Illinois federal court, We-Vibe’s parent company Standard Innovation has been ordered to pay a total of C$4m to owners, with those who used the vibrators associated app entitled to the full amount each. Those who simply bought the vibrator can claim up to $199.

The We-Vibe 4 Plus is a £90 bluetooth connected vibrator, which can be controlled through an app. It is marketed as a way to “allow couples to keep their flame ignited – together or apart”. Its app-enabled controls can be activated remotely, allowing, for instance, a partner on the other end of a video call to interact.

But the app came with a number of security and privacy vulnerabilities, which added up to produce something that many would feel uncomfortable about using.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.1  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  al Jizzerror @5    one month ago

OK, chucking mine out.

5.1.1  MrFrost  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.1    one month ago
Care to explain exactly how that comment applies to this article? Your penchant for sexual innuendo in this context literally makes no sense at all. How does it apply? 

Hello? Can you explain how that comment is a violation? Why? You need to justify why it was removed.. I was well within my rights to ask.... You want an unbiased site, but coddle ONE persons comments? I have all of this saved to a file, there are some things you cannot hide. I asked how that comment applied to that article and you removed it. Why? It had nothing to do with the article and you profess to want people to flag off topic comments? Are you kidding me? WTF? 

Like I said, I saved this post.... explain yourself. 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
5.1.2  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  MrFrost @5.1.1    one month ago

Take it to Metafied.

5.1.3  MrFrost  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.1.2    one month ago


5.1.4  MrFrost  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.1.2    one month ago


5.1.5  MrFrost  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.1.2    one month ago


[Final warning. Either bring this to Metafied or you will get a 2 day suspension]

al Jizzerror
5.1.6  al Jizzerror  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @5.1    one month ago
OK, chucking mine out.


MrFrost is usually cool.  Maybe the vibrator article got him hot.

Sure your humorous reply may be flavored with a little innuendo, butt that's what made it so delicious.

I spice many of my comments up with innuendo.

I even published an innuendo article six months ago.

As Cobalt said, "69% of people see sexual innuendo in almost everything they read."

And the prudes who hate sexual innuendo should definitely ignore my content.

5.1.7  igknorantzrulz  replied to  al Jizzerror @5.1.6    one month ago

what's sexual innuendo...

something that will get you off

this cite ?

†hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh
5.1.8  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh  replied to  igknorantzrulz @5.1.7    one month ago

If someone is watching me through my smart tv, they may get off.

5.1.9  igknorantzrulz  replied to  †hε pε⊕pレε'š ƒïšh @5.1.8    one month ago

doesn't sound smart, possibly kinky and/or gay though

6  dave-2693993    one month ago
"Nearly all TV devices in our testbeds contacts Netflix even though we never configured any TV with a Netflix account," the researchers wrote
Who didn't see this coming?
6.1  igknorantzrulz  replied to  dave-2693993 @6    one month ago
Who didn't see this coming?

Certainly not Canadian Sex Toy manufacturer We-Vibe

They saw a lot coming ! 

6.1.1  dave-2693993  replied to  igknorantzrulz @6.1    one month ago

LOL, Yep, right about that.

7  MrFrost    one month ago



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