by Thinus Ferreira
Skyworth TV South Africa is silent on whether Skyworth TV sets sold and used in the country are also spying on viewers and if that is the case what information these smart TVs are sharing.
The Chinese TV maker has apologised after reports revealing that Skyworth TVs have been spying on users with excessive data collection, with the company that abruptly ended its contract with the analytics firm Gozen Data that it used.
An online Chinese developer forum, V2EX who did a network traffic analysis, revealed how Skyworth smart TV sets gobbled up user data and sent it all to an analytics firm Gozen Data.
Skyworth smart TVs constantly scanned for other connected devices on the same local network every 10 minutes and scooped up all that information - including IP addresses, network latency and names of other Wi-Fi networks within range.
"I felt that the TV was a bit slow before, and I looked at what background services were turned on. I found that there is something called GoZheng Data Service, and I don't know what it is," the user wrote.
"The TV is an Android system. I researched the packet and found that this thing scans my family's connected devices every 10 minutes, and sends back the hostname, mac, ip and even the network delay time. It also detects the surrounding wifi SSID names, The mac address is also packaged and sent to this domain name of gz-data.com."
Gozen Data calls itself a "home marketing company empowered by big data centred on family data".
Skyworth in a statement said that "We have immediately disabled the application concerned across all Skyworth TV products and conducted a thorough investigation into the incident".
Skyworth said that "The violations beyond this scope were not approved nor authorized by Skyworth TV. The violation is strongly against Skyworth TV's core value of putting users first. Skyworth 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."
Skyworth also said that "Data security and user privacy are our highest priorities. We will continue to safeguard our users' privacy, data, rights and interests".
Skyworth South Africa sells several models of Skyworth TVs locally but it's not clear what consumer data Skyworth TVs collect from South African viewers and users.
Prompted by the issue of discovering that Skyworth TVs were spying on users in China, Skyworth SA was asked this week what dat it is collecting from users and viewers in South Africa. Republic PR didn't respond to the media enquiry.