A lesson from LG’s creepy TVs: The pitfalls of data collection

Recently, your humble correspondent read about this PR disaster from consumer electronics giant LG.


Basically, an engineer in the UK has discovered the company’s smart TVs appear to send back a string of unencrypted data to LG every time a user changes channels, including the time, channel name and a unique device ID.


Likewise, when users watch a video clip of a USB stick, the name of the file is sent to the company.


Needless to say, back in my day, Sonny Jim Cockett, there was no room for such tele-shenanigans!


Back then, your average Rank Arena was a big, dumb heavy fake wood grain-covered box with a coat-hanger antenna on top that sat in a corner. It didn’t do much – in fact, before the late ‘80s you weren’t even guaranteed to get a remote control (unless you had kids who you could order to change the channel).


Still, there was one thing the old Rank Arenas certainly didn’t do: Spy on the channel you are watching!


Now, consumers are certainly more than willing to give up some consumer information about themselves to a business – especially if there’s a benefit to them.


It’s safe to say, for example, that most people are aware that Google gathers personal information about its users in order to serve up ads. But there’s a useful benefit to the consumer in gaining services for free – hosted email, video on demand – that otherwise they would have to pay for.


It’s a fair deal, Google is generally fairly upfront about it, and it’s a deal most consumers are more than willing to accept.


Especially in a new product category, such as smart TVs in this case, it’s important to be transparent about exactly what information is gathered and why.


There’s a clear lesson here for any tech start-ups looking to offer a data-based service.


When it comes to building consumer confidence in your tech start-up, it’s better to be more transparent about how much data you gather – like Google – than have your consumers end up feeling deceived – like LG.


So how upfront is your business about the data you collect, and why? And should you be more transparent?


It’s worth looking into.


Get it done – today!


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