What You Say To Your Samsung Smart TV Is ‘Transmitted To A Third Party’

Image courtesy of JKehoe_Photos

It is not known at this time whether meows are uploaded to the voice recognition server. (JKehoe_Photos)

It is not known at this time whether meows are uploaded to the voice recognition server. (JKehoe_Photos)

It was almost three years ago that we started to wonder whether it was possible for smart TVs to watch and listen to anyone in the immediate area of the television. It’s possible, but could it really happen? Over the weekend, the Daily Beast pointed out a single incredibly creepy sentence in the privacy policy for Samsung’s smart TVs, and we all began to wonder what our TV sets are really up to.

Here’s the sentence that caught the eye of Shane Harris:

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.

With a camera and an always-on microphone listening for commands, it’s theoretically possible that your television could be uploading your conversations to a mysterious third party.

In a statement, Samsung clarified that it is not eavesdropping on you and uploading your conversations to a secret server in South Korea. What is “captured and transmitted to a third party” is are the commands that you use, which are uploaded to a server to turn your speech into text, and therefore into usable commands for your smart TV. In a statement to CNET, Samsung explained it like this:

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

If you said, for example, “TV, change channel to 131 my bank account PIN is 1875,” the erroneous information might be uploaded to the server and turned into text.

If these features unnerve you or you don’t trust Samsung to not always leave the camera and microphone on, you have a simple option: don’t turn on the smart TV features, or don’t connect the set to your wi-fi network. If your set has an Ethernet port, you can plug it in with an old-school cord when you want to stream something, and unplug it when you don’t.

It’s not news that a remote hacker could take control of your television and have access to all of its features, including its camera and microphone. One user discovered that the file names on any USB drives that he used with his set were transmitted to LG along with data about what channel he was watching and when.

The problem is that if you’re opposed to the collection and sending of any of your data to mysterious third parties, by not accepting the terms of the TV’s “smart” features, you may be opting out of using those smart TV features that you paid for entirely.

Your Samsung SmartTV Is Spying on You, Basically [The Daily Beast]

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