LG smart TV’s gathering data from your living room
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Hayden Delaney, Partner at HopgoodGanim joins us to discuss smart TVs and their use of big data. Hayden welcome back to BRR Media.
Thanks for having me on again Jacqui.
So Hayden smart TVs are automatically set to send intricate details of a TV user’s behaviour, what kind of information do these TVs gather?
Yeah it all sounds a touch all well doesn’t it these new smart TVs, but look I think it has the prospect to be an exciting technology but just to maybe set the scene the reason the topic’s come into the fray recently is last week LG were subject to some criticism when it was discovered that their smart TVs were stealthily collecting bits of viewing information when people were utilising these smart TVs and sending those details automatically back to data held by LG. But in terms of the type of information that was being collected as I understand it was somewhat fairly benign in and of itself, so details of what was being watched, how long it was being watched, the times at which it was being watched, details like that, but smart TVs in essence I think when you sort of cut through a bit of the marketing spin they’re in effect a hybrid between a digital television and a PC and TVs have always been capable receiving data in the form of television content but then these smart TVs also throw in the ability to connect to the internet and upload data automatically some of the times without people necessarily knowing it’s happening or what it’s actually collecting, so I think it does throw up a range of interesting issues and questions.
Definitely. And Hayden how will smart TVs impact consumers?
I think like most things when we think about the impact on consumers there’s the potential for some things to be good for consumers but there’s also like anything the potential for some negative impacts as well too. In terms of the good what these devices effectively are capable of is providing a rich more intuitive entertainment experience; so if my television knows what I watch and when I like to watch it can make sure that content’s automatically recorded for me or it can provide a tailored viewing content for me based on what it knows I view and my habits and what not. At I guess a more commercial level if my television knows what ads I watch and how long I watch them and what ads might cause me to change the channel because I don’t like it then I could use that data and you know learn things about me from that data and I guess have the ability to target advertisements at me based on that data and I suppose that’s where it crosses the line into having a few potential privacy concerns and why it might become an issue under the Privacy Act. Putting aside privacy the other issue of course is security so when you make a device, any device and enable it to be connected to the internet you expose it to a host of new security risks that it otherwise wouldn’t, you know old school televisions never had to think about security risks in terms of hacking and what not that now some of these smart TVs are open too. So smart phone manufacturers have for some time been exposed to some of these risks and I feel based on some of the news reports that have been out, the manufacturers aren’t quite at that same level when we’re talking about smart TVs yet.
Well Hayden you’ve just mentioned the issue of privacy and the new Privacy Act being introduced early next year. What will the new privacy laws mean for smart TVs?
Yeah I think it’s going to be interesting. At a fundamental level I suppose we’d first need to consider whether the data that’s being collected by these televisions is actually personal information within the meaning of the Privacy Act. At least for now most of the manufacturers based on the news reports last week are fairly adamant that the data they’re collecting isn’t personal information but when I think about it and look at some of the other broader aspects to it, you might be able to argue that some of the information might be personal if a person’s identity is reasonably identifiable when you look to other resources or other data that might be collected, so if when you sign up to register your device with the manufacturer and you enter your address, if you could tie that address data, which is separately collected to the viewing data together then I think you might have some argument that when the two are looked together it could be personal information. The other interesting issue from a privacy perspective is these LG smart TVs in question, as I understood it gave users the ability to opt out of this type of collection of data so in effect that will constitute an implied consent because if people didn’t opt out, then by implication they’ve consented to the collection. In terms of what consent means in a privacy sense the Privacy Commission’s given a little bit of guidelines as to what it expects in terms of what constitutes a valid consent, there’s effectively four elements, it has to voluntary, the individual must be adequately informed of what they’re consenting to, it must be current and specific, and the individual must have the capacity to give the consent. And if we look at some of these smart TVs that were in the news as I understand it the opt out feature was hidden away a fair bit and it wasn’t necessarily easy to access or really drawn to their attention that they could opt out of this, and even more concerningly there was some reports that even once the opt out was given that data was still being collected. So I think there are some valid privacy concerns and there will be some compliance hurdles that some manufacturers need to consider and deal with but for the mean time I guess it’s just another example of some of these big data based technologies intersecting more and more with the personal sphere of our lives.
Well really interesting topic there, Hayden thank you so much for joining us.
A pleasure, thanks very much Jacqui.
That was Hayden Delaney, Partner at HopgoodGanim. Listeners if you have any questions for Hayden you can send them through either using the panel on your screen or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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