Schumer Demanding Investigation Into Smart TV's

Says he's worried about hacking and data collection

Brendan Keany
December 11, 2019 - 3:28 pm

Chuck Schumer. October 1, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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WBEN (NEW YORK) - Senator Chuck Schumer held a phone conference on Wednesday to discuss a concern regarding one of this year's most popular holiday gift items - smart TV's.

"These TV's are hooked up to the Internet, and their manufacturers and software application developers can sometimes collect personal and private information on users," he said. “While everyone loves having guests in their homes over the holidays, they need to be invited—and the hackers and corporations on the other end of smart TVs aren’t."

Schumer noted that hacking has become increasingly prevalent among these devices, which is especially scary because the TV's often come equipped with microphones.

"There have been many instances of hackers breaking into smart TV's and doing all kinds of bad things," said Schumer. "At times, they're even equipped with cameras and microphones, which means they can record your conversations in day-to-day life. If you're sitting on the couch with your spouse, with your kid, with a friend, and you're saying things you don't want other people to hear, they can pick them up."

In response, Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission to open up an investigation into the data protection and security of smart TVs by manufacturers and software application developers, and also to develop recommendations for the production of secure devices.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommended 6 ways in which these devices can become safer:

1.      Device Identification: The smart TV should have a way to identify itself, such as a serial number and/or a unique address used when connecting to networks.

2.      Device Configuration: Similarly, an authorized user should be able to change the device’s software and firmware configuration. For example, many smart TVs have a way to change their functionality or manage security features.

3.      Data Protection: It should be clear how the smart TV protects the data that it stores and sends over the network from unauthorized access and modification. For example, some devices use encryption to obscure the data held on the internal storage of the device.

4.      Logical Access to Interfaces: The smart TV should limit access to its local and network interfaces. For example, the smart TV and its supporting software should gather and authenticate the identity of users attempting to access the device, such as through a username and password.

5.      Software and Firmware Update: A smart TV’s software and firmware should be updatable using a secure and configurable mechanism. For example, some smart TVs receive automatic updates from the manufacturer, requiring little to no work from the user.

6.      Cybersecurity Event Logging: Smart TVs should log cybersecurity events and make the logs accessible to the owner or manufacturer. These logs can help users and developers identify vulnerabilities in devices to secure or fix them.

"It's nothing less than a violation of privacy for New Yorkers," said Schumer.

Listen to Schumer's full comments below:

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