Your Samsung Smart TV Is Spying On You

Your Samsung Smart TV is Spying on You.

TV has never been this smart! is what Samsung’s motto about its SmartTV’s, and it does the same what it says. 

If you own an all new Samsung's latest breed of plasma's and HDTVs, it may allow hackers, or even the company itself, to watch and listen your private conversations, and collect extremely personal data. Really Shocking! No?

The new models of Samsung SmartTV offer high-tech features that have previously been unavailable, including a built-in HD camera, microphone set and face and voice recognition software. This software allows the company to recognize the person watching TV and personalizes experience accordingly. It also listens and responds to specific voice commands.

As the market of connected devices — aka the Internet of Things — boomed, so does the voice recognition technology in number of devices, as the voice-command feature gave us hands free control to our smart devices.

But, did you know that a small, tucked away sentence hidden in the dense "privacy policy" for Samsung’s Internet-connected SmartTV gave the company authority to record everything you say and send it to a third party?

The string of words was first spotted by a Reddit user on Thursday, which reads that the company may "capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features."

"To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you."

Okay, the above lines are almost conceivable. The lines are something what most of the customer service call, supposedly recorded to make the users’ experience far, far more enjoyable.

However, the following paragraph is in question:
"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."

What does the company tries to say? Is that means if, as a Samsung SmartTV user, I decided to go "live in the future" and turn on "Game of Thrones" using my voice, the TV will translate that speech to text and at the time, whatever else I say would be send to third-party companies.

Many accused Samsung of spying on its users and selling its data for profit, however, there is no such evidence of data sleuthing recorded yet.

When asked about the latest accusations, Samsung told The Daily Beast that "In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers' personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use," adding that "customers can turn the feature off or disconnect the TV completely from your wifi."

However, the worse thing is that the company will still gather usage info and any other text-based inputs for data mining purposes even if we haven't turn voice recognition on, as it also notes further down in the policy. So full marks to Samsung for clarity in its policy.

Samsung says, "If you do not enable Voice Recognition, you will not be able to use interactive voice recognition features, although you may be able to control your TV using certain predefined voice commands. While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it."

Samsung provided the below statement with additional details about the working of its Voice Recognition SmartTV feature in response to this issue. The company also suggests consumers with "product concerns or questions" should contact it directly.

"In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized 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. Should consumers enable the voice recognition capability, the voice data consists of TV commands, or search sentences, only. Users can easily recognize if the voice recognition feature is activated because a microphone icon appears on the screen.

Samsung does not retain voice data or sell it to third parties. 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."

About the Author:
Swati Khandelwal - She is an Cyber Security Expert and Technical Writer at 'The Hacker News. 

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