We saw a glimpse of a dystopian future last week when Samsung’s smart TV policy went viral, altering consumers that any personal information spoken out loud within range of the television might be captured and transmitted to third parties. This caused quite a stir, especially when comparisons were drawn to a specific passage from George Orwell’s “1984.”
“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. 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.
Samsung encourages consumers to contact the company directly with any product concerns or questions at 1-800-SAMSUNG.”
The way that Samsung describes the voice recognition technology above sounds far less terrifying than it did in the original report. Basically, the television isn’t always listening and recording everything you say — only when you initiate a voice command search.
That said, it’s probably for the best that Samsung is forced to clarify this (and hopefully reexamine the technology in the future).