Samsung SmartTVs are listening in on what you’re saying.
Samsung’s new SmartTV has a cool new voice-command feature. Unfortunately, writes the Daily Beast, this voice-command feature can also record everything you say, including personal conversations, and transmit it all to a third party.
The company’s voice recognition software allows viewers to communicate with their television by talking to it. It’s enabled when a microphone symbol appears. Basically, instead of using a traditional remote control to change the channel, people can simply ask their Samsung TV to do it for them by uttering a few words.
"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 Daily Beast makes the point that if peoples’ living room conversations are being recorded and passed on, privacy is being undermined. Homes are supposed to be places where families and friends can talk about anything and everything.
“Don’t talk about tax evasion, drug use,” warns the Daily Beast.
It’s pointed out that sensitive information, such as “device identifiers,” according to Samsung, could potentially be passed to law enforcement, advertisers, and other groups. “If the transmission is not encrypted, a SmartHacker could conceivably turn your TV into an eavesdropping device,” the blog adds.
Before going further, it’s important to note that the function only operates in this way when the voice recognition is turned on. That’s probably one of the main draws to the new technology, of course — “TV has never been this smart,” Samsung says.
Samsung has responded to the privacy concerns in a statement:
"Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practises, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use,” the company 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. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network."
Similar concerns were also raised about Siri in the US. The service also transmits information to a third-party. This blog first pointed out the voice-recognition function when it arrived on the iPhone 4S.
On the blog, Simon Fodden says he spoke to someone at Apple who told him “the Siri dictation feature is sent to servers that reside in the US and that Apple, its related companies and agents have access to the contents of what is dictated.”