Chinese TV maker, Skyworth has been collecting user data and sending it to a China-based analytics company.
A Chinese user, who remains unnamed, discovered that their television set was collecting and sharing their private data without consent. This isn’t the first case of this occurrence in the country.
The user posted a picture of their tv set and created a post on V2EX website where they shared that ‘I found that there was something called ‘Gozen Data,’ and I had no idea what it was doing,”
The Original Post
In their post, the user said that ‘What smart devices do you have at home, whether your mobile phone is at home, who is connected to the internet at home, what is the name of the neighbor’s Wi-Fi, and you [the Gozen Service] can collect and upload it at any time. This thing scans my family’s connected devices every 10 minutes, and sends back the hostname, MAC, IP and even the network delay time,” the posting user added. “It also detects the surrounding Wi-Fi SSID names. The MAC address is also packaged and sent to the domain name of gz-data.com.”
The TV set works on android and had Gozen Data as one of the apps. Skyworth has told South China Morning Post that it’s television sets in Hong Kong don’t come pre-loaded with the Gozen Data app. It remains unclear if their television sets come with the app in other countries.
Skyworth and Gozen Data’s Reaction
Gozen Data is an app on the android based television set and Skyworth is an investor in the company.
After the post went viral, Skyworth apologised for collecting user data and published a statement saying,
‘The violation is strongly against SKYWORTH TV’s core value of putting users first. SKYWORTH’s Coocaa has sent a written statement to Gozen Data and immediately terminated the partnership, as well as requested a full erasure of illegally obtained data of SKYWORTH TV users. SKYWORTH TV is grateful to the users who have brought this to our attention. Moving forward, we will implement more stringent reviews on the conduct of our partners and service providers to safeguard our users’ privacy, data, rights, and interests.’
The company did not reveal its investments in their statement and it was discovered by Pandaily.
Gozen has also issued a statement on its website, saying its Gozen Data Android app could be disabled on Skyworth TVs. The company did not say whether users are already aware of its functionality. Gozen data also apologised for “causing user concerns about privacy and security”.
Data Collection Policy in China
China recently introduced new regulations for privacy on the internet and stopping data collection without consent. It is called the ‘Personal Information Protection Law’. The Chinese government first introduced a draft in January and it’s expected to go into effect within the year. According to the new rules, users must be given the option to decline to provide their data to apps where it is not necessary for them to collect data to function. For example, live-streaming video apps, and short video apps can be used without providing personal data.
This is China’s first law protecting personal data.