Disturbing results of new research.
The objects of this research were mainly smart TVs, including those made by Samsung and LG, and dongle devices – among others, Roku and FireTV by Amazon. As it turns out, this type of equipment sends sensitive data such giants as Google, Microsoft, Facebook or Netlix, even when they are in standby mode (and even if you do not have a Netflix account).
Not only televisions and dongles send sensitive information to these companies. Smart devices such as loudspeakers or cameras inform users about the actions of Microsoft and Spotify.
What data are we talking about specifically? Location information, IP addresses, WiFi and MAC addresses, SSID or device used. However, external companies can also potentially check when this device is being used. "So they can know if someone is at home or not," said co-author of one of the papers describing the problem – Hamed Haddadi.
As for the users of the Year and FireTV, external companies were also provided with information about the content they viewed. This data was often sent to advertisers via unencrypted connections. That's why these information could fall into the hands of unwanted people.
As might have been expected, in the face of the publication of the study, these companies have fiercely defended their practices. Netflix points out that he receives from logged-in users only information that relates to how his application performs on a given TV model. Facebook indicates that, after all, the applications available on TVs are integrated with Facebook (it's about logging in with Facebook and counting likes). Google reminds, however, that a lot of companies use its ad system and statistics regarding the reception of individual ads. In this way, the giant openly admits that the collected data are intended to help personalize ads.
If you want to learn more about the matter described here, we encourage you to read the scientific papers on research. The first, from the University of Princeton and the University of Chicago, can be found HERE. The other, Northeastern University and Imperial College London, is located at this address.