Update: LG has issued the following statement as of Thursday evening (4.30pm GMT):
"At LG, we are always aiming to improve our Smart TV experience. Recently, it has been brought to our attention that there is an issue related to viewing information allegedly being gathered without consent. Our customers’ privacy is very important part of the Smart TV experience so we began an immediate investigation into these claims. Here’s what we found:
Information such as channel, TV platform, broadcast source, etc. that is collected by certain LG Smart TVs is not personal but viewing information. This information is collected as part of the Smart TV platform to deliver more relevant advertisements and to offer recommendations to viewers based on what other LG Smart TV owners are watching. We have verified that even when this function is turned off by the viewers, it continues to transmit viewing information although the data is not retained by the server. A firmware update is being prepared for immediate rollout that will correct this problem on all affected LG Smart TVs so when this feature is disabled, no data will be transmitted.
It has also been reported that the names of media files stored on external drives such as USB flash devices are being collected by LG Smart TVs. While the file names are not stored, the transmission of such file names was part of a new feature being readied to search for data from the internet (metadata) related to the program being watched in order to deliver a better viewing experience. This feature, however, was never fully implemented and no personal data was ever collected or retained. This feature will also be removed from affected LG Smart TVs with the firmware update.
LG regrets any concerns these reports may have caused and will continue to strive to meet the expectations of all our customers and the public. We hope this update clears up any confusion."
LG has been forced to investigate if its 'smart' TVs are sending back details of viewing habits, even with privacy settings enabled.
A report by a UK consultant appeared to show that his TV was reporting data to LG without his consent.
The blog by 'DoctorBleet', or rather Jason Huntley from Hull, claimed that data including the channel name and programme information, as well as the names of files stored on an external USB drive connected to the TV, were being reported.
He said in his blog:
"My wife was shocked to see our children's names being transmitted in the name of a Christmas video file that we had watched from USB."
LG has since said that it will examine its practices, but the Information Commissioner's Office has told the BBC it too will investigate for any potential breach of the law.
"We have recently been made aware of a possible data breach which may involve LG Smart TVs," said a spokesperson at the ICO. "We will be making enquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken."
LG also said in a statement that it would be "looking into" the reports.
"Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take this issue very seriously. We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent. LG offers many unique Smart TV models which differ in features and functions from one market to another, so we ask for your patience and understanding as we look into this matter."