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Researchers Warn Smart Devices Send Personal Data To Netflix, Facebook

Sensitive information harvested from consumers from smart devices is being sent to big technology companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix.

Internet-connected devices like the Google Home and even smart TVs are to blame for personal data leak says a team from the Northeastern University in Boston and Imperial College London.

The study revealed that even when a device is switched off, devices in the US and Britain may be sending information to companies beyond the manufacturer.

Computer scientist, David Choffnes at Northeastern University signalled out Amazon, claiming the company ‘is contacted by almost half the devices in our tests, which stands out because [this means] Amazon can infer a lot of information about what you’re doing with different devices in your home, including those they don’t manufacture.’

Netflix was also targetted in the study, suggesting information such as location and the IP Address are being sent to the streaming giant, even if the user did not have a subscription.

According to the Financial Times, Netflix denied the claims, stating information received ‘from smart TVs that are not signed in is confined to how Netflix performs and appears on screen. We do not receive any information about other applications or activity on smart TVs.’

Eighty-one devices across the US and UK were monitored in the study to determine how much personal was logged by the device and where it was sent to, says the Financial Times.

Facebook, Amazon and Google all responded to the report, stating data collection is common for devices and apps.

‘This could, for example, include an app sending data to Facebook to create a login interface, or provide a Like button,’ said Facebook.

The report was not all doom and gloom, mentioning a promising practice in its conclusion – ‘most of the devices use encryption or other encodings that protect users.’

The report comes in the wake of privacy concerns for Facebook, who today, CEO Mark Zuckerburg met with US President Donald Trump to hear concerns and talk internet regulations in the future.

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in an email, ‘[Zuckerberg] had a good, constructive meeting with President Trump at the White House today.

Facebook is currently facing an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission.

Google parent company Alphabet is also facing an antitrust probe, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai meeting with Trump earlier this year.

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