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Netizen Exposes Data Collection Function of Smart TVs Made in China

Recently, a Chinese netizen discovered that his home TV, equipped with the Android system, was secretly carrying out surveillance capabilities. In an article posted on the V2EX website, a discussion platform for designers and developers, he mentioned that a data service on his TV scans all network devices every 10 minutes, even including his neighbors’ information.

As he felt the transmission of the TV signal was slow, he decided to look at the background services that were running. He found something called ‘Gozen Data Service,’ about which he had absolutely no idea.

“I found that this thing scans my household’s network devices every 10 minutes, sending back the information including hostname, MAC (Media Access Control), IP addresses, and even the network latency time. It also detects the surrounding WiFi SSID (Service Set Identifier) names, and MAC addresses packaged and sent to the domain name gz-data .com.”

“In other words, with the information such as whatever smart devices or cell phones are physically at home, anyone who is connected to the WiFi, and the name of the neighbors’ WiFi networks, were collected and uploaded all the time. Are we sure this is not a spy service?”

Gozen Data is a Chinese company specializing in big data service in large smart TV’s, reaching over 100 million smart TV terminals made in China and accounting for 55 percent of the market. As of April 2019, Gozen Data entered into a long-term partnership with a long list of Chinese and Western companies including Sanyo, Toshiba, and Philips, by the implanting of an SDK (Software development kit) in the TV’s operating system so as to collect smart TV data.

Xing Jian, a citizen journalist who is familiar with the Internet technology, told Radio Free Asia that the Chinese government had modified the open-source Android system and used it for the “Xueliang Project (雪亮工程),” an IT network to surveil people living in the rural area.

The “Android system repurposed for this ‘Xueliang Project’ was able to achieve the networking of public security surveillance videos. The application usually intrudes into cell phones, TVs and other Android devices in the form of ‘spyware,’ automatically scanning and collecting the information such as device model, usage, and social media and transferring the data to the government databases.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 27, 2021