Samsung Warns Customers to Be Careful What They Say in Front of Their Smart TV




I want a dumb TV, a dumb car, dumb every tech thing.

Samsung has confirmed that its “smart TV” sets are listening to customers’ every word, and the company is warning customers not to speak about personal information while near the TV sets.

The voice activation feature captures conversations within range and it can share the information to third parties which they’ve named as Nuance Communications.

You can disable the voice recognition feature to keep it from listening to you.

voice recognition

Samsung’s privacy policy includes this line: “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.”

“If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search,” Samsung said in a recent statement meant to clarify. “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.”

The company added that it does not retain or sell the voice data, but it didn’t name the third party that translates users’ speech.

This is a now well known disadvantage of the Internet of Things.

Michael Price of the Brennan Center said that he bought a smart TV but is afraid to use it after reading the 46-page privacy policy which basically has people signing away all their privacy rights.

Before buying your “smart TV”, be sure to read the privacy policy no matter how many confusing pages it comprises. You will find that some – and most – log where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons to detect when you view content or email messages, apps you use, websites you visit, and how you interact with the content. It doesn’t care if you tell it not to track.

Price says, the TV, like your computer, has a built-in camera with facial recognition and a microphone with voice recognition features that hackers or spy agencies could use.

This is constitutionally protected information, Mr. Price reminds us, but – still – the companies get away with it. They will continue to do it until a civil liberties union wins in court or until enough people stop buying them.

Eventually, all appliances, meters, and other objects will be wired. Basically, we will be bugging ourselves.