Some (like me) were suspicious of these new TV converter boxes and the need to convert from analog to digital signal in the first place. Their reason was "to free up airwaves for local emergency communications" (cops, FEMA, DHS, etc.). Here is a link to a video showing the camera and microphone in a Magnavox brand converter box.
Related to this, it has been established that you can be eavesdropped on by the microphone in your cell phone even if the phone is turned off. You have to remove the battery to circumvent this.
Here is a link regarding AMDOCS, the company with the contract for NSA surveillance/wiretapping equipment that has been monitoring EVERY call in the US. There is a 'backdoor' built into the system allowing a third party to listen in. It has been suggested that the White House secret codes regarding Air Force One may have been hijacked this way on 9/11/01. They were looking for a foreign state mole in the White House who could have had access to these codes but they don't think it could have have been done by a single person. Do a search on 'Mossad Mega' for more on this spy story. It's an eye opener.
OK, back to the converter boxes. Imagine you and your spouse/lover/gay friend/hand decide to get randy on the couch (or bed). Well someone is watching and listening to you from that box sitting on top of your TV. What other reason would there be to include a camera and microphone into a TV signal converter box? (and don't tell me it's an "ad targeting tool" which is the excuse you will hear from the manufacturers when the outrage reaches a crescendo).
You may think it's impossible to monitor that much information but they use data mining/meta tags to zero in on what they want and their computer files it away for later examination.
Mighty powerful blackmailing tool. I believe many of our D.C. politicians are being blackmailed.
I have heard that some newer model TV sets have the camera/mic too...they are more difficult to find because they are located in a corner of your screen space and you'd have to dismantle the TV to find it. But I don't know that for a fact.
If I hear more, I'll keep you posted.