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Samsung promises its smart TVs aren’t listening to your private conversations… again

Published Feb 10th, 2015 11:35AM EST
Samsung Smart TV Voice Recognition

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After issuing a public response on Tuesday to reports that claimed the company’s Smart TV privacy policy basically says its TVs can pick up your conversations and transmit them to third parties, Samsung has posted an even more detailed explanation of how voice-recognition technology is supposed to work on its Smart TVs.

FROM EARLIER: Samsung’s smart TV privacy policy should scare you to death

The company says it’s taking privacy very seriously, and voice-recognition features are enabled on Smart TVs only after users agree to separate Samsung Privacy Policy and Terms of Use when setting up the device.

Samsung further revealed that it can record voice in two distinct ways, using the embedded system in the Smart TV, which can respond to certain predetermined commands, and using the microphone in the remote control, which requires interaction with a server that can then offer appropriate responses to certain queries.

The company has apparently identified the one phrase that led to confusion.

“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,” is the quote in question.

So, for example, if you mix private conversations with a search for something on the TV, then, and only then, Samsung will record everything and send it to its servers, or potentially to other parties.

The company says it has changed that language to make everything more clear to the user. Here’s how that section reads now — information on how to turn the feature off is also provided right at the end of the updated text listed below:

Voice Recognition
You can control your Smart TV, and use many of its features, with voice commands.

If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.

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.

You may disable Voice Recognition data collection at any time by visiting the “settings” menu. However, this may prevent you from using some of the Voice Recognition features.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.