Samsung Smart TV’s Are Listening To Your Voice And Sending It To Third Parties

I for one will never own a Smart TV. The prospect of having a device that is connected to the Internet monitoring my viewing habits is very un-nerving to me. So, when this story from The Daily Beast hit my inbox, it only served to reinforce my decision to never buy a Smart TV:

A single sentence buried in a dense “privacy policy” for Samsung’s Internet-connected SmartTV advises users that its nifty voice command feature might capture more than just your request to play the latest episode of Downton Abbey.

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party,” the policy reads.

So be advised: If you’re too lazy to pick up the remote, you may want to keep your conversation with the TV as direct and non-incriminating as possible. Don’t talk about tax evasion, drug use. And definitely don’t try out your Violet Crawley impression.

It appears that what Samsung is up to is that they’re sending your voice to a third party to do voice to text conversion. That’s not unusual as Siri works the same way. But there is a concern that Corynne McSherry, the intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation voices:

“If I were the customer, I might like to know who that third party was, and I’d definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form.” If the transmission is not encrypted, a Smart Hacker could conceivably turn your TV into an eavesdropping device.

Agreed. Now Samsung’s response to this really leaves a lot to be desired:

“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use,” the company said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network.”

Uh, no. How about being more clear about what you do with a users voice? Simply saying you can turn off the functionality or disconnect the TV from the Internet gives me a huge incentive not to buy the TV in the first place. That way I don’t have to worry about any of this. So, perhaps Samsung cares to rethink this answer and come up with something better that makes me want to trust them as a company when it comes to this sort of thing?

 

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2 Responses to “Samsung Smart TV’s Are Listening To Your Voice And Sending It To Third Parties”

  1. […] Smart TVs as they have serious privacy issues. And to back that up, I cite these three examples of why you should not ever buy one. Now there’s another reason why you should not buy one, […]

  2. […] am no fan of smart TVs. I cite these four examples of why you should not ever buy one. And you will not see me with one in my home. Now there’s a […]

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