Samsung Smart TVs are Listing to Your Private Conversations

When you and your family members are sitting in front of a Samsung Smart TV, be sure to refrain from talking about any personal matters because, well, it’s actually recording you.

Ostensibly, the warning from Samsung applies to users who control their Smart TVs through a voice activation feature. These televisions then “listen” to each conversation and the details are shared with Samsung or a third-party stored in a centralized data storage.

It seems that Samsung is replicating technology used in George Orwell’s “1984” in which the government installed telescreens, technology that spied on its citizens for their own security, at least according to many privacy proponents.

This news was first discovered by the Daily Beast, which cited a policy passage that explained the television will be listening to conversations in order to push ahead with commands issued by the individuals.

samsung smart tv

Here is what the privacy policy states:

“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.”

There are several questions that remain unanswered: how will the data be used? Who is this third-party group? How are the conversations transmitted? Are the conversations encrypted?

Corynne McSherry, an intellectual property lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told the blog that the third-party is likely the company that provided the speech-to-text conversion for the television manufacturer.

A Samsung spokesperson also spoke with the website and attempted damage control by iterating that Samsung employs “industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorised collection or use.” He added that the voice function is a voluntary option and can be deactivated at any time in addition to the Wi-Fi network.