Samsung’s Smart Television: Is It Spying on You? [Video]

Samsung

Privacy concerns have been spoken over the ability of Samsung’s Smart TV to transmit unspecified data information to third parties while you’re watching it.  Can Samsung’s Smart TV spy on you?  The issue in question lies with the device’s voice recognition software which can be remotely accessed. Privacy polices listed on the Smart TV from the company states that Samsung could capture voice commands plus associated texts from individual Smart devices, including device identifiers that can be delivered over the internet to be captured by third parties.

Several privacy advocacy groups have decried the process as an attack on privacy rights stating that the right to privacy is a world recognized concept that should be respected. While the cloud-asset feature could improve the quality of voice recognition, there appears to have been an admission by the company in its written policy that spoken words can be transmitted providing the company with a way to identify individuals and households. That’s pretty scary stuff.

Samsung’s policy on the Smart TV as also stated that spoken words which include personal and sensitive information will be transmitted to remote servers.  Even if voice recognition is disabled on the device, it can still listen for key commands enabling the company to collect that data and other usage data to evaluate how the unit performs so that it can improve it.

This has raised strong privacy concerns due to the potential ability for abuse of personal financial data such as bank details, an example of this potential abuse could be finance information such as bank passwords that are repeated on a continuing basis could be recorded onto a remote server.  Privacy advocacy groups have made strong augments that the company’s policy matches George Orwell’s 1984’s description of telescreens which were used to spy on citizens of a police state society.

Privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch stated Samsung needs to realize that most people do not want to be spied on by their television and criticized that even if the television owner decides not to share information by disabling the voice recognition feature, that the company could still gather the information anyway. The move could leave users with no knowledge over where information about them could be going or who will have access to it.  Privacy campaigners call the move a clear overstep of personal privacy when both U.S. and European Union governmental units are working to address concerns about privacy issues.

The U.S. Federal Trade commission and The EU’s Working party have encouraged internet device makers such as SmartTVs to adopt a privacy-by-design principle that could stem the growing problem by providing built-in privacy safety measures from the get-go.  Samsung’s SmartTV could spy on you, but if safety measures requested by privacy campaigners are enacted the impact could be noticeably lessened.

Samsung has responded to the current privacy discussion about its privacy policy by stating that any data collected is transmitted over encrypted computer servers which cannot used by unauthorized parties.  The company also said that customer privacy was a serious matter and that any gathering of information would be done with complete transparency.  However for those concerned with privacy, the SmartTV’s voice recognition software can be totally disabled so that it can never be used by visiting the settings menu on the television.

By Tara Newlands

Sources:

The Register

The Age

CBC

Photo by Karlis Dambrans – Flickr License

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