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You are here: Home / Digital Life / Careful, Your TV Might Be Listening
Careful, Your Television Might Be Listening
Careful, Your Television Might Be Listening
By Dan Heilman / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
There might be times when you tune out what's being said on TV, but it could be listening to you at all times. Samsung's Internet-connected Smart TV reportedly may be listening in on users' personal conversations. Samsung's Smart TV privacy policy includes the warning, "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 through your use of Voice Recognition."

According to Samsung, those third parties perform such jobs as converting speech to text. Samsung said the voice-recognition data collection can be turned off via the TV's settings menu, but "this may prevent you from using all of the Voice Recognition features."

The global privacy policy says that it sometimes retains voice commands and texts to improve the technology. The company said it does not sell the data collected by its Smart TVs to third parties. After the privacy policy was first reported on by The Daily Beast, the Electronic Frontier Foundation distributed it via Twitter.

Common Practice

Samsung is not the only smart TV manufacturer collecting this type of data. In November 2013, the owner of a smart TV made by LG Electronics discovered that it was collecting information about his viewing habits, even when the feature to collect data was supposedly turned off. Also, the TV also collected the names of files stored on external media devices and sent the data to LG's servers.

LG later issued a firmware update to stop the data transfer if the collection feature was turned off. Shortly after, though, it issued a new update that asked customers to accept a revamped privacy policy that gave the company the right to collect viewing, voice and device usage data and send it to countries with fewer privacy protections. Other devices that have an "always on" listening mode include the Amazon Echo, Microsoft Xbox One, and Motorola Moto X.

Samsung unveiled its line of Smart TVs two years ago. Just over a year ago, the company boosted its voice interaction service, expanding it to 12 additional markets. Frequently used features like channel surfing, opening apps, and searching for shows could be accomplished using voice-recognition features that produce a pop-up window of results in response to commands.

Look for the Microphone

Samsung said it is transparent about its data gathering practices on its line of Smart TVs. In a statement e-mailed to media outlets, a company representative said the company provides "meaningful options for consumers to freely choose or to opt out of a service. We employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers' personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use."

Samsung pointed out that users can easily recognize when the voice recognition feature is active on a Samsung Smart TV because a microphone icon appears on the screen.

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