The Dutch website Tweakers.net has discovered that Panasonic routers internet traffic from its smart TV apps through its own servers, causing users to suffer from technical issues and to fear about their privacy. Panasonic has confirmed that apps like Netflix and Youtube are run via their servers. According to the company this is done so “Panasonic can better manage the services that it provides”.
Users found out about the issue when Panasonic did a scheduled maintenance in the weekend of the 10th and 11th October which resulted in 2 days of downtime. Users were unable to use apps like Youtube, BBC iPlayer and Netflix. They received the error message, “Please check internet connection” and “Network error occured E3C35” while their internet connection worked properly. It wasn’t their internet connection, the issues were caused by an update of the Panasonic servers.
A Panasonic spokesman explained the issue to an AVForums user, “I can confirm that all third party applications (including Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) run via a Panasonic server. The reason behind running applications in such a way is so that Panasonic can better manage the services that it provides. This is especially so in cases where an application is either updated or removed. Ultimately, the aim of running third party applications via our server is intended to provide an easier customer experience on the smart platform of the television.”
That easier customer experience didn’t really show when the Panasonic servers were down, as the spokesman continues, “Unfortunately, as you have noted over the weekend, an intermittent problem with the Panasonic server led to some disruption on certain models of television and applications. As you are now aware, this particular problem appears to have been resolved allowing full access to the services again. I further trust that this is the case with your unit too.”
And indeed Panasonic smart TV owners report that their apps are working fine again. Nevertheless, they wonder why the apps are routed through Panasonic’s servers. They fear that in case Panasonic ever goes bankrupt and has to take their servers down, they lose their smart TV functionality, some also fear that Panasonic is able to track their watching behavior or has other ways of obtaining potentially privacy sensitive data.