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

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the apt-get-install-xbmc dept.

Television 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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Send it back.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 3 months ago | (#47056737)

I recently got my first Smart TV (I had an almost 20yr old Philips that just would not die, and in the end it never did).

It's a Samsung and I made a point of not accepting the privacy policy. So far I have noticed nothing that does not work, which made me wonder if Samsung actually bothers to check whether or not the policy was accepted.

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

Re:Send it back.... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47056795)

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.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 3 months ago | (#47056863)

Plus if companies do get caught on this kind of thing, they tend to be hardly punished (by regulators nor consumers). So there's almost no reason for them to play fair.

Having said that, not connecting it at all is not an option for me, that would break netflix. If only we could configure our own hosts file on our tv, or something.

Maybe APK can lead the way.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47056979)

Plus if companies do get caught on this kind of thing, they tend to be hardly punished (by regulators nor consumers).

Especially since courts have upheld EULAs as being valid, even if they basically give themselves the power to do anything they like. And it's all nice and legal. For many consumers, they don't know or care -- sure I'll give you my data, just give me the stuff I want on the interwebs.

Having said that, not connecting it at all is not an option for me, that would break netflix.

See, my ISP gives me a 60GB/month cap, and $10/GB over that every month. Netflix was never an option for me.

If only we could configure our own hosts file on our tv, or something.

Well, depending on what you have at home, you could always figure out where the traffic goes and block the hosts at your router or use your own DNS server to redirect it to something else.

But that would probably break it even more.

For me, the only way to win is to not play -- I wouldn't consider connecting my TV to the internet. Because I don't use the services, and don't trust the companies who make the TVs.

Re:Send it back.... (4, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#47057175)

Especially since courts have upheld EULAs as being valid, even if they basically give themselves the power to do anything they like. And it's all nice and legal. For many consumers, they don't know or care -- sure I'll give you my data, just give me the stuff I want on the interwebs.

Actually no, at least in the US they haven't. With the sole (and bizarre) exception of software.

EULAs are hardly a new thing. They have been tried with everything from home appliances to garden shovels (yes, really). And the courts have consistently held that if you buy a product at retail, once you plunk down your money, the manufacturer or supplier cannot impose conditions on the use of the product. (They can void a warranty for activities that might damage the equipment, but that's about it.) There have been 2 exceptions, and they are very different kinds of exceptions:

One has been software. However, that has still not been firmly tested in higher court. There is no rational reason why software should be different from just about every other good that is for sale.

The other is when there is a prior agreement to use a product in a certain way. For example: your company has a contract or license with a software (or hardware!) company that imposes such rules. If you have an up-front agreement that mandates only certain kinds of use, it is enforceable.

"Shrink-wrap licenses" (the most common form of EULA today) are generally not enforceable in the US when it is a retail purchase. But again, as I say, some courts have (bizarrely, irrationally, and against all precedent) upheld them for software, on thin grounds. If it is ever tested in the higher courts, chances are post-sale "licenses" will be struck down for software, just as they have for every other kind of product under the sun.

Re:Send it back.... (3, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#47057241)

I left something out which is important:

US courts have invalidated "license agreements" or "use restrictions" on retail products, even when those restrictions are clearly visible on a package or label before purchase. Yes, really. The reasoning is: you paid your money, you own it. You have a legal right to use your property in any manner you choose. Although, as I mentioned, some uses can void the warranty, IF the warranty conditions are reasonably tied to possible damage of the product.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 months ago | (#47057475)

I constantly see posts on Slashdot claiming this, but also claiming the opposite. Is there a list of relevant cases on the topic? I just checked Wikipedia, and that article could use some help:
Wikipedia: Enforceability of EULAs in the U.S. [wikipedia.org]

Physical goods don't need to be copied (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47057285)

There is no rational reason why software should be different from just about every other good that is for sale.

Unlike physical goods, works of authorship in digital form need to be copied into RAM in order to be used, bringing in copyright law. They also often need to be decrypted in order to be used, bringing in anticircumvention law.

Re:Physical goods don't need to be copied (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47057377)

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.

Re:Physical goods don't need to be copied (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#47057505)

Unlike physical goods, works of authorship in digital form need to be copied into RAM in order to be used, bringing in copyright law.

Even if that were true, copyright law and EULAs are vastly different things. In fact, the First Sale Doctrine in copyright law says that a EULA is prima facie invalid. So invoking copyright law probably won't get you anywhere here.

They also often need to be decrypted in order to be used, bringing in anticircumvention law.

But the "anticircumvention law" is anticompetitive and against pretty much all legal precedent prior to DMCA. I am pretty sure that one won't last, either.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47057429)

See, my ISP gives me a 60GB/month cap, and $10/GB over that every month. Netflix was never an option for me.

60GB a month? Umm, what do you do on the web, email?

A single game download these days can chew up most of that, but of course you probably don't do that. :)

A few apps, some wifi in your house... 60GB wouldn't last me very long... that sucks...

Re:Send it back.... (4, Informative)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47057009)

Having said that, not connecting it at all is not an option for me, that would break netflix.

why plug the smart tv at all, and just get a roku or apple tv? both have way better interfaces than smart tv, offer more features, and better privacy protection. At the very least, the roku/apple tv are their own little boxes, so worst case they can only share information on your activities there and not on your entire living room experience.

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.

Re:Send it back.... (5, Insightful)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

Arker (91948) | about 3 months ago | (#47057409)

"Having said that, not connecting it at all is not an option for me, that would break netflix. If only we could configure our own hosts file on our tv, or something."

My preferred solution is simply to refuse to buy this sort of hardware at all.

That said, having it and apparently being unable to return it, what you want to do is figure out exactly what ports and addresses it needs access to in order to get your netflix, then program your router firewall to default deny that one device, and give it as small a whitelist as possible.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 3 months ago | (#47057509)

You could probably hook the TV to a decent router, and allow only the Internet IPs that you want access to like Netflix make it to the TV. There is some possibility that the menus you use to get to the NetFlix app would stop working if they can't reach the manufacturers server though if they're really that interested in tracking you.

Re:Send it back.... (4, Informative)

contrapunctus (907549) | about 3 months ago | (#47056859)

For all you know it's a placebo button ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org] ) and they might still collect everything anyway (you many have to look at data sent). I remember news stories about someone who analyzed the network data and found data still being sent (that was an LG though, http://www.tomsguide.com/us/lg... [tomsguide.com] ).

Re:Send it back.... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47056931)

You basically have no way of knowing what they are doing with any data they obtain; but putting a passive tap on the wire between the TV and the world and watching closely should at least tell you what they know. If they bother to encrypt it properly, of course, you may need to actually break into the embedded OS, or grovel through the firmware, which is considerably more challenging; but even knowing how much flows upstream is better than nothing.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about 3 months ago | (#47056963)

More importantly, does the fact that you declined the privacy policy mean that the services function without gathering your personal information or is it gathered regardless of your preference? In a way, the behavior of LG is more honest, since they have to spend money and resources to make the 'smart' services work. If you're not paying a subscription, you're paying with your valuable private information. I suspect that information is too valuable for other vendors like Samsung to ignore despite the pesky fact that you declined to accept the privacy policy. That's a revenue stream they just can't ignore, since there seems to be little consequence if they do, unless some government or lawyer decides to make something of it.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057407)

Funny I thought I paid Them with money.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 3 months ago | (#47057527)

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

If this is done right (HUGE IF), there's no reason for you to care. If they operate like those of us who work with personal data, but preserve privacy, the data will all be anonymized and aggregated to be useful for analysis without identifying any individual. This may very well not be the case, in which case you do still need to care if you're interested in privacy.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | about 3 months ago | (#47056813)

I'm pretty sure most if not all American retailers will take it back too.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056967)

I'm pretty sure most if not all American retailers will take it back too.

With a restocking fee! Best Buy charged me 10% on the last TV I bought from them that didn't work out of the box. Unfortunately, the Republicans that rule this country won't fix that problem. Corporations keep dumping defective products on us, and the Republicans allow them to charge fees to take their nonfunctioning garbage back.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057247)

You could, you know, not buy from those stores.

Though, when I worked in consumer electronics, we used to hate Americans who'd take our hardware home just to try it out and then return it, because the stores let them do so for free. We then had to pay for the store to return it to us and resell it at a discount as a refurbished product, and that meant we had to increase prices to everyone else to cover that freeloading.

So we'd have been pretty glad to see stores trying to discourage people from doing that.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

Pax681 (1002592) | about 3 months ago | (#47057267)

I'm pretty sure most if not all American retailers will take it back too.

With a restocking fee! Best Buy charged me 10% on the last TV I bought from them that didn't work out of the box. Unfortunately, the Republicans that rule this country won't fix that problem. Corporations keep dumping defective products on us, and the Republicans allow them to charge fees to take their nonfunctioning garbage back.

that's a shocking rip off, if it's non functional out of the box then, as a defective product it should be replaced under the warranty and thus should not be subject to any "restocking fee".. mind you never having paid a restocking fee for anything in my life.. i find the concept crazy to be honest... i live in Scotland btw where if a retailer tried that shit he would not last long..LOL

Re:Send it back.... (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47056841)

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

Re:Send it back.... (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 3 months ago | (#47057047)

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

Or just don't use the features. It's hard to find a "dumb" TV these days when you get past the low end sets. I have an Smart TV and I don't think I've ever used the smart features. It's a monitor for my XBMC and occasionally I will swap over to antenna if something is happening (crazy weather for example) for the local news.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47057331)

I can find you high end dumb TV's all over the place. Stop looking at consumer grade junk or shopping at best buy.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

futuresheep (531366) | about 3 months ago | (#47057173)

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

The problem with that is that the only Dumb TV's left are bottom tier junk. Those of us that actually care about image quality have no other options than Smart TV's.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47057373)

http://www.panasonic.com/busin... [panasonic.com]

I beg to differ, you have to go for high end pro, not low end consumer.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

danlip (737336) | about 3 months ago | (#47057441)

Just don't enter your WiFi password. It can't report home if it can't connect to the internet.
i.e. it is easy to turn a smart TV into a dumb one.

Re: Send it back.... (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 3 months ago | (#47057563)

It hasn't happened quite yet, but soon Ethernet will be bundled along with AV feed in that HDMI cable. Actually preventing Internet access to the TV and other AV equipment will become trickier at that point, particularly for consumers who don't know how to configure their router very well.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 months ago | (#47057357)

The problem is it's getting harder and harder to find a dumb TV. I bought a TV a few months back, and almost everything in the size range I was looking for was a smart TV. Even fewer dumb TVs were available once you add on a few extra requirements like "3 or more HDMI ports" and "reputable manufacturer". In the end, I ended up getting a smart TV. I really like some of the features on it. I can watch Netflix, play movies PLEX, wirelessly stream from my tablet. Sure I could do all that if I hooked up a computer to the HDMI port, but then I would have to get another computer for my living room, and the remote wouldn't be integrated like the one on my TV.

Re:Send it back.... (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#47057425)

That's not my experience, we watch Netflix and Amazon Prime all the time on my Sony smart TV with no complaints.

As for being tracked, it is sad, but there are no (legal) options for watching on-demand programming without be tracked. Let's check out Roku's (so-called) Privacy Policy [roku.com] , shall we? "Cookies enable Roku and others to track usage patterns and deliver customized content, marketing, and advertising to you.... We may use information collected using third party cookies and Web beacons on Roku Sites and in our emails to deliver Roku advertising displayed to you on third party sites..." etc etc. Read the rest of it and tell me if you think it limits them in any significant way at all?

(Unless you call timeshifting broadcast TV "on demand").

Re:Send it back.... (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 months ago | (#47057541)

How is buying a Roku box any different? You still have to agree to an EULA, they can still fuck you over at any time on a whim. Maybe if you had said "buy a Raspberry Pi and install XBMC" you might have had a point, assuming you never want to use services like Netflix.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056885)

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

Does it make a difference that this user seems to have gone through with an active choice upgrade of his system that came new conditions? It is not clear to me from the story if he was informed about new conditions before going through with the upgrade.

Re:Send it back.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056955)

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.

Who says I don't have that now?

I actually have a similar setup, where all my *external* accessing devices such as my LG SmartTV are already on their own VLan separated from the rest of my house using the classical DMZ configuration. Actually, I have multiple DMZ's for various purposes and to keep all the traffic separate.

Re:Send it back.... (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 3 months ago | (#47057447)

I have similar as well. The devices that have a static IP are allowed to access out the gateway at will. However, anything using a DHCP-provided address will have all packets dropped, except for port 80 with an empty page on it. That way, a device can do all the POST or GET with data being sent as part of the URL all it likes, but it won't leave the LAN.

Of course the next step we will see are smart TVs that require activation via a server, and constant contact with the server, perhaps as part of the next HDCP spec. If then, it might be just time to go back to the ghetto LCD projector and movie screen.

Nope. (5, Funny)

Mitreya (579078) | about 3 months ago | (#47056687)

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?

Of course they don't.
I am sure that just in 3-4 years, after a lawsuit, affected customers will be able to get a $7.50 credit good towards purchase of a new LG TV.

Re:Nope. (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 3 months ago | (#47056929)

look at it this way. software is written, and it contains code that will capture users' usage data. you, as the end user, have a choice. use the software, or not. seems pretty reasonable.

LG is just formally giving you that choice. the software of their device, as written, will capture usage data. if you don't agree to that, fine, but guess what you can't use the software in that case.

Sony did it with OtherOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057055)

Sony set a precedent.

Re:Sony did it with OtherOS (4, Informative)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | about 3 months ago | (#47057319)

Ah, good, someone pointed this out already. Of course... you got down-modded because you gave like ZERO useful information, so here's some elaboration:

Sony upgraded the PS3 software and removed the capability to dual-boot into Linux (the "OtherOS" feature). There was a class action lawsuit that was dismissed apparently because the plaintiffs didn't do a good job showing actual damage [courthousenews.com] .

I remember some good analysis of the issue at the time. One analysis concluded that the PS3 owners had the right to reject the upgrade, and that the system itself could function as normal, but the ongoing use of the Sony servers represented a "continuing relationship" whereby the company did have the right to change the agreement and the users could either accept the changes or stop using the service entirely. The "service" was free, or paid monthly, and differentiated from the "hardware" which performed precisely as it was sold _if you didn't upgrade the firmware_.

Of course this varied from country to country, but I know of no country where Sony was held liable (someone should correct me -- I could easily have missed one).

I'm sure there was more nuance, but I'm paraphrasing something I read long ago. Anyway, the same logic may or may not apply here... did the LG TV advertise these features? Could the streaming "features" be considered a subscription based service, rather than tied to the hardware advertising? LG can argue that every online service faces some time-dependant obsolescence and change; they may end up being in the clear.

It's not a privacy policy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056691)

It's essentially an addendum to the Terms of Use. You don't agree to the ToU you don't get to use whatever it is that's covered by them.

Re:It's not a privacy policy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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."

Re:It's not a privacy policy (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 3 months ago | (#47056791)

Hell ya it is. I don't wanna see fines. I wanna see people go to jail. He had his tv for two fucking years already.

Re:It's not a privacy policy (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47056895)

Who? who goes to Jail? the shareholders? the majority shareholder? the CEO? the Lawyer? The Engineer?

It's a corporation, they understand money. Fine them 250 pounds per impacted TV. Give them 30 days to enable preexisting feature or fine them again.
It will solve this problem, and it will mean other competitors won't do it.

Putting people in jail for this is a waste of time, money, jail space ad will accomplish very little.

Re:It's not a privacy policy (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#47057149)

Who? who goes to Jail? the shareholders? the majority shareholder? the CEO? the Lawyer? The Engineer?

All or some of them. Aren't there laws to deal with this type of situation?

Re:It's not a privacy policy (4, Interesting)

putaro (235078) | about 3 months ago | (#47057211)

Maybe it's time for "corporate jail" - the company's operations get suspended for the time it's in "jail" but it's required to continue paying employees. That might finally start getting their attention.

Re:It's not a privacy policy (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47056989)

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.)

Re:It's not a privacy policy (2)

baldass_newbie (136609) | about 3 months ago | (#47056765)

Moreover what about Terms of Use for the other content? I have not read the LG ToU, but it could be something as simple as 'hey we need to pass this information on and we will store it on your TV for you so you can use Netflix, iPlayer, etc. but we won't receive or store anything.'

Without a copy of the agreement, it's hard to tell how nefarious this is.

What is this "LG" you speak of? (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 3 months ago | (#47056709)

Wait, I remember now. A long long ago, in the before-time, there was a manufacturer named "LG." They "competed" with Samsung and Sony. But then the rains came, and their factories slowed, and then finally ground to a stop. The old books told of it with their ink-words. And some elders say you can still hear their slogans at night--and that they might even still be around--hiding in the woods, foraging for scraps, surviving as best they can.

Re:What is this "LG" you speak of? (2)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 3 months ago | (#47057057)

What, you mean the "Goldstar" part of LG? If you remember any Goldstar computer products from the late-80s to mid-90s, they were absolute crap. How they ever surpassed Samsung & Sony is beyond me, especially given the "Lucky" part of "LG" is a chemical company that even makes toothpaste & laundry detergents! ("Lucky Goldstar" became "LG" in 1995...)

LG in decline? (1)

systemDead (3645325) | about 3 months ago | (#47056725)

For a sec I misread the headline to mean LG's sales are going down.

Re:LG in decline? (1)

rbrander (73222) | about 3 months ago | (#47056747)

With a little luck they'll be called "the declining LG" ever after.

Re:LG in decline? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 3 months ago | (#47056923)

For a SEC? What does the Securities and Exchange Commission have to do with it?

Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#47056731)

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.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 3 months ago | (#47056975)

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 (or Ethernet) network. Done, problem solved... Even then, there are plenty of households without their own WiFi and plenty of others who don't even have broadband Internet (whether due to local unavailability or eschewing technology), so having such a disconnected TV refuse to even show video over HDMI would be untenable.

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... On the other hand, such additional traffic (pings, heartbeats, phoning home with customer spying info), from millions more devices on mobile networks may not be practical for quite a while.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47057025)

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.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | about 3 months ago | (#47057193)

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.

True, that's likely coming down the road. But there are a LOT of people who's access to broadband is still at work or the local library--assuming they even bother. The reason M$ decided against this, at this time, is because there are a LOT of places in the US (let alone the world) that still don't have broadband, or have crazy restrictions like 2GB/month that you'd associate with cellular networks (e.g. Alaska, Canadian Territories).

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.

Well, to start off, the smart TV manufacturer would consider buying a bulk contract with AT&T, Verizon, or other nationwide cellular company--your viewing habits are worth that much to them! Of course, in due time, the newest "Smart TV Enhanced" firmware will require you to pay a monthly fee for said "new services & features", especially on your "old smart TV"...

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (1)

Splab (574204) | about 3 months ago | (#47057453)

Bulk access to MVNO is pretty cheap, it's more expensive to get the sim cards provisioned for each country they operate in, and make sure they are paired with the right country.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056991)

I never plugged in the ethernet cable or provided my WIFI password to my new Smart TV. It works just fine.

Of course, my Comcast box is spying on me anyways and they never even asked for permission.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47057041)

just never plug it in to the internet. doesn't matter how "smart" it thinks it is. unless it becomes self-aware there are no problems.

Re:Why I Prefer Dumb Displays (1)

fermion (181285) | about 3 months ago | (#47057455)

I am not sure why people buy TV such as this. A good regular TV is under $400 and should last for 5-10 years. The streaming technology, however, is going to change every few years. So it you buy a Tivo, it will run about $300 a year, at which point you can buy another Tivo for $300 to get the new stuff, but not have to buy a new TV. A new roku, fire TV, Apple TV, whatever, can be bought every year for $100 to keep up with hardware changes. Granted, a smart TV is only going cost $100 more, but after a few years you either have to jettison the 'smart' part of buy a whole new TV.

Thanks for the info... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056745)

No LG TVs in the future for any of my family and also will advise everyone I know to avoid them.
Good job LG!

Re:Thanks for the info... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056797)

Just avoid "smart" TVs; connect a standard HDTV to an HTPC and get more than all of the benefits with precisely none of the invasive crap.

Why I won't own one ... (5, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47056757)

The primary purpose of an internet connected TV is to generate ad revenue and marketing data about you -- or at least in my cynical view it is.

Basically they've said "if you don't consent to give us this data, we're taking away features". Probably because they can't (or won't) make the services work without it, and it's just easier to cut you off.

Connected devices have always been a huge privacy hole, and an opportunity to have someone continue to make money off you after they've sold you the TV.

It's also why my last TV wasn't a "smart" TV. My TV receives inputs from sources, but otherwise is essentially just a monitor with speakers.

I view this as more or less a predictable outcome of smart TVs, because companies view them as something you're using under license, and will only give you these services if they're getting what they want in return.

Re: Why I won't own one ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056825)

You're smart. Only give internet connection to devices you trust. Keep all others off the internet. TVs are inferior at most of the internet features they have anyways.

Re:Why I won't own one ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47056857)

Yep. My old Vizio is dying, so I'm looking for a replacement. I watch only OTA (digital) broadcasts. One feature of the old TV is a 24 hour on screen program guide. Most OTA digital signals include this programming data in their broadcast stream. So I went to the TV store looking for a new one with the same feature. Not available. If you want any such features, you must now connect your TV to the Internet. Or its crippled.

Re:Why I won't own one ... (1)

farble1670 (803356) | about 3 months ago | (#47056951)

Basically they've said "if you don't consent to give us this data, we're taking away features". Probably because they can't (or won't) make the services work without it, and it's just easier to cut you off.

no they aren't. they are saying that there is software on this device, much of it delivered by 3rd parties BTW, that will capture usage data. if you don't like that, here's the option to opt-out, which is not using the software.

Re:Why I won't own one ... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47057363)

no they aren't. they are saying that there is software on this device, much of it delivered by 3rd parties BTW, that will capture usage data. if you don't like that, here's the option to opt-out, which is not using the software.

Oh, OK, so "if you don't consent to give them this data, we're taking away features".

I see, totally different. How foolish of me.

It's not the 3rd parties disabling the functionality in the TV though, is it? It's LG, and it's in response to their updated privacy policy. Which means if they went to the trouble to disable the features, they likely also benefit from this data.

Sorry, but this lays squarely at the feet of LG as far as I'm concerned, and does nothing at all to change my view on smart TVs and the like, and further reinforces that the notion of the internet of things will be similarly bad for consumers and privacy.

Anything which can be abused by corporations will be abused.

What's the problem? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056799)

If you are on the internet you are tracked. Don't be a whinny-ass pussy. Be a man and suck it up.

Does a manufacturer have the right? (5, Informative)

cardpuncher (713057) | about 3 months ago | (#47056801)

No. Not in UK law, I'm pretty sure, though IANAL.

The Data Protection Act (DPA) means you have to be able to opt out of this kind of intrusive data harvesting and if the disabling of advertised functionality isn't covered by the Sale of Goods Act, it would seem that the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations would apply. The DPA applies to your relationship with the data processor (LG) while the functionality of the TV is the responsibility of the retailer.

The correct remedy would be to return the TV to the retailer and demand a refund or a "repair" and to go to the small claims court if they refuse. LG won't be happy when retailers start pushing back.

Re:Does a manufacturer have the right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057027)

I've gone through small claims and it was pretty easy to do. The hardest part is serving the summons, but fortunately you can pay the sheriff to deliver the summons for you. :)

Re:Does a manufacturer have the right? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47057071)

it depends if the change of terms if for LG specifically or pass-through for other services like NetFlix. If you decline the NetFlix terms you can't be mad at LG becuase the netflix app stops working.

There is a workaround for this (2, Informative)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 months ago | (#47056805)

customers can upgrade [xbmc.org] to a version compatible with LG's now 'dumb' televisions. this new firmware stores and receives digital media, imports users music, can be viewed in multiple rooms, and wont cripple your cat if you dont forward a list of your favourite shows to them.

LG (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 3 months ago | (#47056807)

I won't be buying anything marked LG for quite some time; I had one of their phones about ten years ago. Buggiest piece of shit I ever saw, made Windows 95 look good by comparison. The screen would often turn upside down, backwards, all white, all black, do all sorts of strange things. Thinking "factory defect" I sent it back, and the replacement was even worse. So I'm going to have to have a whole lot of people I trust telling me how well built their LG is before I buy anything from them. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

As to their privacy policy, it's pretty obvious they stupidly and arrogantly hold their customers in contempt.

That said, I don't want a "smart TV" at all. I'll stick with my old kubuntu computer I have plugged into my old TV's S-Video and the stereo with the big speakers, and when the TV finally dies I'll try to find one without a built-in computer, just because it makes vile shit like this possible.

A "right"? (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 3 months ago | (#47056809)

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?

If by "right" you mean "legal right", then yes. Next question.

Re:A "right"? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 3 months ago | (#47056889)

Yup, right there in the terms of service you never read but nonetheless agreed to.

Because you don't "own" anything anymore, you use it at the indulgence of the manufacturer, and they can and will make any changes they see fit in order to maximize revenue.

Welcome to the future!

Re:A "right"? (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47057197)

Because you don't "own" anything anymore, you use it at the indulgence of the manufacturer, and they can and will make any changes they see fit in order to maximize revenue.

not really. the difference is that TVs used to be a product, but now they are both a product and a service. You own the product but don't own the service. This british man is free to unplug the tv from the internet and use it like he's always used it. It has a great display, integrated speakers, a digital tuner for OTA or basic cable, inputs for external devices, outputs of sound or video to external devices, a stylish design, and a remote control. this is what he owns.

I think the actual complaint is not with the product but the marketing. Maybe he feels that he was given the impression that he owned the service, but as you said only used the service "at the indulgence of" the mfr.

Re:A "right"? (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 3 months ago | (#47057355)

Exactly. The only question is whether or not they used misleading marketing. I imagine they need some fine print on the box, saying "you must agree to these terms to use these services". And given that they have an army of lawyers, I would be surprised if they neglected to do that.

Re:A "right"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056897)

And you know it's true because some random dude on the internet said so.

No, actually, this very question is what's contested, and will likely see the inside of a courtroom (or several) before it's decided.

Re:A "right"? (1)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 3 months ago | (#47057497)

Do you really need evidence for the fact that terms of service, in most cases, are legally binding? I think that much should be obvious.

The question, if anything, is not "can they brick services if you don't agree to the terms?" It's "can you sell a TV advertising certain features, then change your terms in the future making those features unavailable to certain people?"

I am no lawyer but I am inclined to say "yes". The legal precedent seems to be "you can change your terms of service AS LONG AS you notify your users". Which LG is doing.

Though one could argue that it was not clear from the marketing that any agreement was required in order to use the advertised services. If there is any case against LG, I would guess that would be it.

They are bad actors (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47056823)

to break feature the preexisted the new firmware update should not be allowed. Maybe a fine off 200 dollars per TV they disabled.
They should put the policy up front, and if people decline they just don't get any new features, just bug(manufacture defects) fixes.

Summary... (0)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 months ago | (#47056833)

A single LG television owner had an issue during a software/firmware update, and immediately became âoeoutragedâ and hit the âoeblogosphereâ with his âoeoutrageâ, rather than address the update issue with LG.

The Internet is full of "outrage" these days...

Re:Summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47056959)

We are full of outrage because most of the time someone gets screwed like this we all realize that we have been getting the shaft also. LG will never be in the school district I am the tech coordinator for along with many other companies products. 1 person, tens of thousands per year lost in sales to our district because of this poor behavior. I find it hard to believe that the penny per person they make by harvesting our data is worth the thousands lost to people like myself who are in a position to dictate where taxpayers dollars go.

Re:Summary... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 3 months ago | (#47057095)

Probably because a LOT of people are full of outrage, lately. There's a lot of bullshit going on that average individuals feel that they have absolutely no control over, and it's true. They are outraged for a good reason. Unfortunately, internet outrage is like pissing in the wind, it's not very effective and can get messy very quickly.

Sounds like Sony and the PS3 (2)

bluelip (123578) | about 3 months ago | (#47056849)

I bought the Playstation 3 because of the ability to run other OSs. I liked my LG TVs because they gave me a DB-9 serial connection. I'm just old, I suppose. I still prefer openness.

Re:Sounds like Sony and the PS3 (0)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 3 months ago | (#47056993)

Yeah, that's what came to my mind as well. I bought the PS3 primarily as a way to tinker with Cell programming.

IIRC, U.S. courts somewhat stunningly say that Sony was under no obligation to not destroy advertised functionality post-purchase. Perhaps the OP would fare better in the UK.

Accept no computer you don't control (1)

rbrander (73222) | about 3 months ago | (#47056911)

I was glad to grab my LG TV - because it was the last one at Best Buy that wasn't a "smart" TV, no internet connectivity at all. Just a monitor.

I really hate my $129 media player that adds 20 new for-pay services every time it updates....also LG, but I am so getting rid of it when I pull the $ together for a little computer I'll build on FLOSS from scratch, and that'll be the only thing with any smarts in my media life. Not a privacy fanatic, but it all just makes me uncomfortable and suspicious.

Re:Accept no computer you don't control (2, Informative)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 3 months ago | (#47057207)

Why, did you get one of those piece of shit ROKU boxes? I had one, for exactly one day. Turns out the piece of shit was directly engineered to separate me from my cash. The first thing it wanted was a fucking credit card so they could start happily billing me even more for the device I just paid $100 for. The final straw was after digging through it and all the stupid "apps" for it you have to buy, I finally figured out the only way it would play my LOCAL MEDIA that I specifically purchased it for was to BUY A FUCKING APP to do it for $4-5 bucks. That did it.

The POS went back the next day flat, and I bought a WD-TV Live box instead. It did everything I ever wanted it to do, and it supports LOTS more a/v file formats, way more than the ROKU did. It will play .ISO DVD images directly, and understands .AVI, .MPG, .MP4, .MKV and whole host of other formats. The WD-TV Live was one of the best purchases I have made in the last few years. ROKU sucks donkey balls. Maybe they fixed this in later software upgrades, but somehow I doubt it, as I said it seemed engineered to drain my wallet, primarily...

It's not really a TV (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#47056969)

It's a marketing testing bed set into the consumer wild to retrieve marketing information.

It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.
-Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb

Do not buy smart TVs. Period. (1)

cyberspittle (519754) | about 3 months ago | (#47057039)

Why do people spend a lot of money on a smart TV, when they will stop software updates after 3-5 years? Then,, you are left with zero-day exploits in firmware. If you are not connected to the internet, you have no need to worry, but why would you buy a smart TV and have no internet access?

Re:Do not buy smart TVs. Period. (1)

sjwest (948274) | about 3 months ago | (#47057303)

Our fta set top box had one firmware update and that was it. So a three year update history sounds amazing from our point of view.

Smart TV is DUMB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057045)

But less dumb than every single piece of AV equipment now duplicating functionality. There's no fucking reason for my TV, my blue ray player, my receiver, my cable box, my game stations, etc. to ALL have "smart" functionality and be internet connected. It's insane.

I see the argument for TV sets with integrated streaming/etc. for people who don't have full av system, but holy zombie lord we need some choices that don't include completely redundant functionality.

Hardware as a service (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 3 months ago | (#47057113)

When you buy hardware as a service, I guess you should expect that your hardware could fail if the service goes away for whatever reason. The problem is, the hardware isn't advertised as "working until we brick it, which may be sooner than you think". The more this happens, the more consumers will demand a firmer guarantee. Or balk at "smart" stuff altogether. Or at least expensive "smart" stuff.

My Mom had a "Memory Frame" that used a 3rd party service to display pictures from Flickr, facebook, etc. Actually, I guess it would be a "4th party" since this was an online intermediary between the frame and the social sites. The fine print on the box implied those features would only work as long as the service existed, but to the casual reader that seemed to imply that if, e.g., facebook disappeared, then so would the pics. Well sure, you think, can't see your facebook stuff if facebook goes away. Fair enough. The intermediary service was only disclosed in the fine print of the "agreement" in the user manual sealed in the box. Users complaining on the Toshiba forums were advised that the company had a right to shut it down at any time: "just look at the fine print as you'll see we're right!"

So I'm resistant to getting a smart TV, or a smart door lock or a smart thermostat, and not just for security reasons. When you buy a product like that in the "durable goods" category, you expect it to have a working lifespan worthy of being called a durable good. Not to have to call the HVAC guy in the middle of the night in sometime January because Google discontinues Nest support and your thermostat is now just a piece of decor.

Block their addresses (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057137)

Most consumer routers have a simple blacklist for ip's per pc ip. Simply block their addresses. Google them or run a wireshark on an isolated hub+pc and make note.

I have and LG TV and the new eula needs someone to go after it. It even sends audio recording if you use the mic to their servers.

mess with them (4, Funny)

MooseTick (895855) | about 3 months ago | (#47057191)

You could agree and then record/watch lots of Teletubbies or Barney Miller reruns while you aren't home. That will shew their data and maybe they will eventually give up.

Like Westinghouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057341)

Westinghouse TVs don't give you Antenna TV until you enter a magic code downloaded from the internet.

Looks like no 3D TV for me (1)

Torp (199297) | about 3 months ago | (#47057381)

I was planning on buying one eventually, but I don't care about active 3D so LG was the only manufacturer. Since I can't touch a LG product any more, that means I'll stick with 2D TVs.
Or can you buy a dumb 3D TV anywhere? I really don't need the smart features to slow me down. I have a multipurpose external player for that.

'Smart TV' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47057511)

I beleive we used to call these 'Telescreens,' citizen.

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