Samsung warns about its ‘eavesdropping TV’

Samsung is warning its customers to avoid discussing personal information in front of their smart TVs. The cautionary note is for viewers who control their Samsung Smart TV using its voice activation feature. Such TV sets ‘listen’ to every conversation held in front of them and may share any details they hear with Samsung or third parties, it said.

The Daily Beast published an excerpt of a section of Samsung’s privacy policy for its net-connected Smart TV sets. The policy explains that the TV set will be listening to people in the same room to try to spot when commands are issued. It goes on to warn: “If your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party.”

Samsung has issued a statement to clarify how voice activation works.  It said the privacy policy was an attempt to be transparent with owners in order to help them make informed choices about whether to use some features on its Smart TV sets, adding that it took consumer privacy “very seriously”.

Samsung said: “If a consumer consents and uses the voice recognition feature, voice data is provided to a third party during a requested voice command search. At that time, the voice data is sent to a server, which searches for the requested content then returns the desired content to the TV.”  It added that it did not retain voice data or sell the audio being captured.

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