Maybe Your New TV Is Watching You

It’s the entire point, really. New smart TVs from Samsung boast video cameras with facial-recognition software and microphones with speech-recognition software. They can tell who’s in the room, understand spoken commands, and be controlled with gestures. That’s great news for those of us who can never find the remote, but made our friends over at HD Guru wonder: is there anyone behind that camera watching us back?

Having an always-connected camera in your home that periodically checks in with Samsung’s cloud servers raises all kinds of scary and slightly creepy questions. Is it possible for someone at Samsung, or a third-party app developer, to watch what goes on in your living room? Is the facial-recognition data, along with household members’ personal viewing habits, cross-referenced with the TV’s serial number and your warranty registration information anywhere? And what happens when someone (inevitably) figures out how to hack these TVs? HD Guru sent these questions, along with others, to Samsung a few weeks ago, and have received no response.

But wait. Can’t you even tell when the camera is on? Nope, their tests showed:

During our demo, unless the face recognition learning feature was activated, there was no indication as to whether the camera (such as a red light) and audio mics are on. And as far as the microphone is concerned the is no way to physically disconnect it or be assured it is not picking up your voice when you don’t intend it to do so.

That’s… not at all comforting.

Is Your New HDTV Watching You? [HD Guru]