Samsung Smart TVs ‘eavesdrop’


Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Technology giant Samsung has warned customers against discussing personal or sensitive information in front of its voice-activated televisions.

The privacy policy for the company’s Smart TV sets advises users of the voice recognition feature that their spoken words will be “among the data captured and transmitted to a third party”.

Privacy campaigners have branded the policy “outrageous” and made comparisons to George Orwell’s description of telescreens, which spied on citizens in his novel 1984.

According to reports, Samsung’s policy states: “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 through your use of voice recognition.”

The policy adds: “While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.”

Emma Carr, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: “Samsung need to understand that not everyone wants to be spied on by their TV. It is outrageous that the company has even stated in its own privacy policy that if the TV’s owner does decide not to share their private information, then the company may still take the information anyway.

“This leaves users with no knowledge or control over where your information goes or who has access to it and that is simply unacceptable.

“Few people would expect a TV to intrude on our privacy, yet this is increasingly becoming the case. As this sort of technology is being made to gather increasing amounts of data about us, it is vitally important that people should have to choose to make use of these additional services.”

Samsung has insisted it takes customer privacy “very seriously” and any gathering of users’ information is carried out with the “utmost transparency”.

A spokeswoman said: “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.

“Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only. Users can easily recognise if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen

“Samsung does not sell voice data to third parties. If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”

Published: Monday 9th February 2015 by The News Editor

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