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Google disables Android TV photo sharing for all users after account privacy issue

Google disables Android TV photo sharing for all users after account privacy issue


Affected users could see the profile pictures and names for ‘hundreds’ of accounts

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Google has shut down Google Photos sharing to Android TV devices today after a bug was discovered that revealed hundreds of user accounts to other users. Until the bug is resolved, Android TV owners won’t be able to set Google Photo albums as their screensaver or view pictures with Google Assistant on their set-top devices or smart TVs, as reported by Android Police.

The bug was first spotted by Twitter user Prashanth who noticed that, while trying to set up a screensaver on a Vu brand TV, they could view hundreds of other Google accounts, a bug that was replicated by user Aarjith Nandakumar on his iFFalcon smart TV. It’s not entirely clear what caused the bug. Prashanth notes that they couldn’t replicate the bug on another Android TV device (a Xiaomi Mi Box 3), and now that Google has temporarily blocked the feature on its end, it’s difficult to see how widespread the problem is.

No word on when the functionality will be restored

The bug also apparently didn’t give access to the entire photo collection from those user accounts — it only showed the account name and profile picture — but it’s still a pretty severe security hole, even if it could have been much worse.

In a statement released to Android Police, Google commented, “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.” Meanwhile, Vu claimed in a separate statement that the fault was “not an issue of Vu Television but it was software malfunction of the Google Home App.” Whatever the cause, Google is at least aware of the issue and will hopefully have a fix rolled out sometime in the near future.