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Does my TV want to spy on me?


Yesterday, my TV asked me:

For quality and improvement purposes, your usage statistics about the TV system and remote will be sent to the Sony server. It will exclude personal and individually identifiable information. Would you like to enable this setting?

At least they are asking, but it does leave a couple of questions:
  • What exact information gets collected?
  • What does Sony consider being "personal information"?
  • How do they ensure that it is not "individually identifiable"?
  • What exactly are those "improvement purposes"?
  • Where exactly do they collect this information?
  • How well is it secured, especially with Sony's less than stellar track record in this regard?
  • How can I be sure that it's not collecting the data anyway regardless that I turned it off?
I guess the only way to answer the last question is to buy a managed network switch that lets me monitor traffic on specific ports...

Oh, and while I'm at it. If you are one of those who are dodging the TV licence fee ("Rundfunkgebühr" in Germany), you'd better not connect the TV to your network at all: That newfangled HbbTV thingy European public broadcasters are introducing apparently causes the TV to request the index for the online content each time you switch to such a channel. This doesn't mean much of course, unless your other network activity allows correlation between you or at least your household and your IP number.

I am paying the fee, of course, but I'm considering pulling the network cable anyway... This is the only way to be 100% sure that it cannot phone home. Even though I have to admit the online features are quite nifty, indeed.

This is of course an issue with all network connected appliances. But I'm not convinced that Sony understands privacy concerns at all. For example, their remote control application for Android phones sports ads and a recent version of it wanted access rights to the browser history of the phone. I declined that update and removed the app instead.

Comments 12 years ago

Considering Sony's lack of security and utter malaise about what they gather and for what purpose, I would ask two questions: What possible good can it do me to say yes, and what possible harm can it do me to say no?

Will you get anything for giving your data away? No? Then why bother?

Could this data be used against you in court someday if some lawyer demands it? Maybe? Then why bother?

I generally take a "my business, butt out" approach to all these companies wanting all my data. I don't see that my toilet needs to collect urine samples and forward it to American Standard everytime I flush, and I don't see that my TV needs to tell Sony what shows I watch either.

Link | Reply 12 years ago

I am starting to NOT like technology. Stuff like this is why i do NOT have twitter.

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