A glitch leads to a privacy breach.
Google has shut down Photos on Android TV due to a fairly troubling glitch which left users accounts open to other users. A Twitter user that goes by the name Prashanth accidently discovered the issue while setting up his Vu LED TV. Setting up the Backdrop/Ambient Mode on the smart TV, he discovered that he could see a massive list of other user accounts, complete with name and profile picture.
Upon tweeting out the issue to Google, he was originally told to contact his television maker, but soon it was discovered that it was not a one time glitch. Another user, using another TV made by iFFalcon (a subsidiary of TCL) was able to duplicate the issue. It appears that with this glitch, users are able to see the accounts of other users who have the same model of televisions as they do. While the issue is occurring on multiple brands, with multiple OS versions, it is not occurring across all of Android TV. Some on other brands were not able to duplicate the issue.
Now that Google has shut down the ability for all Android TV users, it is no longer possible to test. Google responded to Android Police with the following statement,
“We take our users’ privacy extremely seriously. While we investigate this bug, we have disabled the ability to remotely cast via the Google Assistant or view photos from Google Photos on Android TV devices.”
Vu issued the following statement pointing to the Google Home App as the actual problem.
“We were recently notified that there was a malfunction of Google Home App in some of the Android TVs. After verifying the incident we have informed our customers that it was not an issue of Vu Television but it was software malfunction of the Google Home App. We take your privacy very seriously. Vu has a long-standing commitment to protecting the privacy of the personal information that our customers entrusts to us.”
For the time being, Android TV users will not be able to use the Photos functionality until Google manages to patch this privacy leak.