Samsung warns ‘SmartTV’ users not to discuss personal info in front of their eavesdropping TVs

“The potential privacy intrusion of voice-activated services is massive,” Natasha Lomas reports for TechCrunch. “Samsung, which makes a series of Internet connected TVs, has a supplementary privacy policy covering its Smart TVs which includes the following section on voice recognition (emphasis mine):”

You can control your SmartTV, and use many of its features, with voice commands. If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. 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.

Lomas reports, “As an Electronic Frontier Foundation activist pointed out earlier today, via Twitter, the concept of a TV screen that might be snooping on your private conversations — and thus broadcasting a chilling effect by inculcating self-censorship within its viewers — is straight out of George Orwell’s 1984:”

Read more in the full article here.

“The possibilities curdle in the mind,” Chris Matyszczyk reports for CNET. “So much so that I have contacted Samsung to ask how broad this policy might be and what third parties might be informed of your personal conversations. A Samsung spokeswoman told me: ‘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.'”

“At the heart of all this is, of course, trust. The best and only defense against intrusion from the likes of Google to Samsung is this: ‘We don’t really care about your private life. We just want your data, so that we can make money from it,'” Matyszczyk writes. “It’s inevitable that the more data that we put out, the more will be recorded and the more will be known about us by machines which are in the charge of people. We have all agreed to this. We click on “I agree” with no thought of consequences, only of our convenience.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yikes!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Aldez” and “Mike Walker” for the heads up.]

24 Comments

  1. Boycott this POS of a company. Second, email or forward the links on this story to friends and family. Skip CNET. I’m sure there are other credible sites than CNUTS or ZDNUTS reporting this.

    1. If enabled, you can wake Siri by saying “Hey Siri”. Which means your iPhone/iPad is always listening.

      This is opt-in, of course. Not sure about the Samsung TVs.

  2. As always Samsung and Google do NOT have your back. In fact they will rob your data blind. Untrustworthy.

    When will people learn who use their Pinocchio-esque “Pleasure Island” offerings that they come with the hidden pricetag of turning you into an ass.

    1. Ha great idea. I will loop my gurgling nasty Fart sound 24/7 and distribute it to Samsuck tv owners that I know. Have it wired directly to the Tv. Well if they let me.

  3. Should we be so naive to believe it will only be Samsung? Is SMART tv turning into or already a Spy-On-You tv? Google? We need help from the hacker society to block this. I would like a “VPN” for my Tv, just in case, even if it’s not Samsung.
    Of course to begin with one should not buy anything Samsung! But the wallet will be the deciding factor for most people.

    1. Yes it’s different.

      A phone is not always on recording you…
      If it were your cell usage would be very high.

      Siri and Googles voice thin are only on while being used.

      Samsungs smart tv’s and Xbox ones kinect are always on. Unless you turn them off manually.

        1. You know that little black opening in the top of your MacBook Pro screen? Yeah, the one Snowden warned us about.

          If you haven’t used it in the last week, you might want to cover it up with black tape. Then you know absolutely when it can record and when it can not.

  4. How far a stretch is it then to just be able to monitor the amount of internet activity coming from a home to know if the family is home, or at least in the living room with the TV on? Some, I hope, but surely not far from a reality there, either. 🙁

    1. It’s not you. They’re stupid. Assuming your manufacturer keeps them up-to-date, you’ll have “smart” functionality for a few years, max. After that, the security updates stop, the app updates stop, and you’re just left with a screen. So just buy a screen to begin with.

      1. Thats kinda how I looked at it. Why get a TV with a UI thats terrible and will quickly be out of date in comparison to the screen. Just buy a nice screen and add a box to it like Apple TV or something similar.

    1. Apparently it *is* just their TVs that do questionable data gathering of the “listen to your conversations kind.” Do you have any citation that shows otherwise?

  5. The real question is once you talk too much to your TV (pick your subject that you get angry about), who is going to knock on your front door and want to talk about those lethal threats you made right into Samsung’s microphone?

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