The Stack Archive

Samsung Smart TV is recording your private conversations

Mon 9 Feb 2015

Samsung’s privacy policy includes details that its Smart TV voice recognition feature may pick up on personal conversations and transmit private communications to third parties.

Buried in the privacy policy related to the smart television, Samsung advises users to be aware that any snippets of conversation might be captured by the software which allows them to control their television sets with a series of commands:

“Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts […] 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.”

Questions have been raised about who this third party could be, what the information is used for, and how the data is being transmitted – with potentially unencrypted voice clips left exposed to hackers.

A spokesperson for Samsung has since announced: “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 unauthorised collection or use.

“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.”

However, even if customers have the feature deactivated, Samsung warns that other data could be collected and stored:

“If you do not enable Voice Recognition […] While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data.”

This Samsung case is just the latest instance where concern has been raised around voice-activated services. Security experts continue to highlight vulnerabilities in software such as Siri, with hackers easily able to trick the features into unlocking devices
Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO at anti-virus firm AVG, warned that “Microphones should be disabled immediately.

“[Leaving] biometric technology as it is today is like leaving a computer without a password and just allowing anyone to walk by, click and take action.”


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