The Future Is Now: Smart TV That (Horrifyingly) Listens To Your Conversations

Smart TV that listens to your every word and sends it to a third-party while voice recognition is enabled.

Credit: The Daily Beast

Credit: The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast just spotted something buried in Samsung’s privacy policy for their Smart TV’s: not only is your TV listening to your every word, it’s sending your conversations to a “third-party provider” to also listen to your every word.

This is happening for every TV with the voice recognition feature, which allows users to give verbal commands to the TV without touching their remote. Though it might seem like it’s only listening to capture the right command words that it recognizes, the TV is actually recording everything you’re saying while you’re within range and sending it to the third-party

“that converts your interactive voice commands to text” and “associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features.”

The policy goes so far as to state,

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

Though the concern might be low for some users because it’s likely that Samsung really is just using this information to learn about TV commands for their users, the real concern is whether what is being recorded is secured. If it’s not encrypted, there is the risk of hackers accessing the TV and eavesdropping. 

Credit: Hooked Up HD

Credit: Hooked Up HD

Samsung responded to the public outcry by assuring users that consumer privacy is taken “very seriously,” and stated that the feature is activated by using the TV remote. Though this could be true for some models, a quick online search reveals that there is also a way to activate the feature for constant voice recognition in the Settings. You may turn this feature off and still use the feature by pressing the microphone button on the remote to limit the amount of listening the TV does. Samsung also said that users would always know when the feature is on because there is a microphone icon displayed on the TV.

In addition to these reassurances, Samsung told its customers that any information that is received is not sold or accessible to any other third-parties.

Data sharing has been met with a large amount of controversy, though Samsung is not the first to make a Smart TV to face such criticism on the matter. In 2013, an IT consultant found that his TV was gathering information about his viewing habits. This led to a software update on LG’s part to allow this feature to also be switched on and off.

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