Samsung’s TVs are listening-in

Samsung’s Smart TVs can listen to, record and send private conversations to a third party.

Samsung’s TVs are listening-in

If you thought your living room was a safe place to have a private conversation, you might be wrong.

South Korean technology company Samsung has revealed that its Smart TVs are capable of listening to, recording and sending your private conversations to a third party.

The company claims in its privacy policy that the voice recognition software in its Smart TVs will capture voice commands to send to a third-party service, which uses them to “evaluate and improve the features”.  The name of the third party isn’t stated.  

The privacy policy also warns customers, “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.”

Deactivating the voice recognition settings may not make much difference, as the TV will still listen out for key command phrases, and “Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data.” 

However, customers who want to ensure their privacy are advised to disable data collection entirely from their TV through the settings menu, though this means disabling all voice command features.

Read more at The Age.

Opinion: Big Brother is watching

For me, George Orwell’s novel 1984 is coming to life more and more as technology evolves. Certainly, we have made impressive strides in medical, engineering and entertainment technology, but do we really have to push it this far?

I understand the concept of data collection, which serves an important function for a company to be able to assess the effectiveness and success of a product, and improve its efficiency for the customer. What I don’t understand is why Samsung needs to gather this information in a duplicitous way.

Samsung has made it clear in its privacy policy that even if customers opt-out of having their information forwarded by deactivating the voice recognition function, it will still send on their usage data information.

Emma Carr, director of privacy campaign group, Big Brother Watch, described the technology company’s move as “outrageous” and says that customers are being deceived and are left “with no knowledge or control over where [their] information goes or who has access to it”.

In 1984, citizens of the Oceanic society are clandestinely spied on by the Party through their telescreens. Meanwhile, Samsung maintains that it takes customer privacy seriously and that any collection of customers’ information is done so with the “utmost transparency”.

So citizens of the Oceanic society, similar Samsung Smart TV users, had their personal and private conversations monitored by a controlling body. I’ll admit it does seem that we don’t have it quite as bad – at least Samsung is being honest about its intentions.

What do you think of the way technology is developing? Do you think Samsung is being duplicitous about capturing and sending customer conversations to a third party? Do you own a Smart TV?





    COMMENTS

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    margie
    11th Feb 2015
    10:16am
    It's easy, just don't buy Samsung and they will get the message without having to listen to the voice recognition, and maybe the other companies will also realise not to go there.
    Star Trekker
    11th Feb 2015
    2:21pm
    I would never buy a Samsung TV or anything else. I bought a Samsung VCR once and never again. Quality is shocking.
    Reeper
    11th Feb 2015
    6:48pm
    Mini-minded outlook Star Trekker.... if we all adopted approach no one would buy anything. I bought a Sony VCR some years back and had nothing but problems but I don't denigrate every Sony product as a result. Sony fixed it, but when I went to a DVD player Samsung sold me a fantastic machine and it is still going strong...
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:26pm
    eeeerrrrhhhh…. Reeper, Star Trekker, I thought, was combining his lack of appreciation of Samsung's products with the fact that they are recording private conversations illegally.
    Macey05
    11th Feb 2015
    10:27am
    Have an LG Lifes good, but if I could afford a """"Smart TV"""" and it was a Samsung. Hope they enjoy my conversations with my Puddie Cat.

    11th Feb 2015
    11:05am
    It's O.K. I've got a Samsung Smart TV - but I speak 'Strine, so no-one can understand me anyway!

    Besides, anyone who imagines that listening to what people say, might produce a range of superb marketing information, is sadly deluded!

    Just listening to the drivel and verbal diarrhoea overhead in discussions on public transport, is proof of that!
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:32pm
    Not the point AND just because they say it is for product marketing, doesn't mean it is. You can trust everything a megacorp tells you, yes?
    Who are these third parties…. obviously, they are FOREIGN and obviously they have absolutely NO RIGHT to record private conversations under Australian LAW unless they have specific approval to do so.

    Very shortly, if not done already they will be videoing and of course, they will own the rights to everything that is obtained.

    You think that is okay? It DEFINITELY REEKS of George Orwell's 1984!
    dougie
    11th Feb 2015
    11:54am
    Smart TVs- Smart Phones - Smart Whatever. What about a Smart Operator who knows enough to not get into trouble. Me I am not smart as with anything I use or do I want to be in control. I only use Holes in the Wall when absolutely necessary, I demand that should I make a purchase from a store - I want service and a pleasant smile. We allow too much to pass us by in the name of progress. Stick with the tried and true and tell those who must produce something extra each time, another must have item to sell. The old works fine why change it?
    wally
    11th Feb 2015
    12:11pm
    I would not trust (or own) any gizmo that is smarter than I am. No Smart Car, no smart mobile phone and definitely no smart tv set. I like being smarter than the stuff I own. If only I was smart enough to make the damn things work the way I want 'em to.
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:33pm
    wally

    Your smarter than you think, mate!
    wally
    13th Feb 2015
    10:19am
    Thanks, Musso. Nice to hear/read something complimentary from you. I'm looking forward to our next stoush in our little political arena.
    KSS
    11th Feb 2015
    12:25pm
    Smart phone, smart car, smart TV .... then Get Smart and use the Cone of Silence!
    Polly Esther
    11th Feb 2015
    12:30pm
    It doesn't work, you can't hear anything, that's why the chief is balding and bad tempered.
    KSS
    11th Feb 2015
    12:43pm
    Oh! You noticed that eh 99?
    Troubadour
    11th Feb 2015
    1:07pm
    Certainly NOT this far!
    Tom Tank
    11th Feb 2015
    1:11pm
    This a giant step TOO far and despite not wanting more laws this should really be stopped legally.
    Bobeye
    11th Feb 2015
    1:59pm
    If Samsung can interpret my comments on the poor quality of Commercial TV Programs and pass it to the channels, that will be OK.
    If they speak to the ABC they can say I dislike the bias on the reporting as it is to Left and Green.
    Tom Tank
    11th Feb 2015
    2:11pm
    Bobeye have you considered that because your bias is to the Right that it is only your perception that the ABC is biased to the Left?
    I do completely agree with your comments on Commercial TV. Pathetic dumbing down of programs with incredible number of station promos. No wonder some people with the ability to work out how to do it watch TV from the UK and USA via cable or satellite
    dougie
    11th Feb 2015
    2:37pm
    Bobeye.

    You will be in trouble - how dare you be critical of the ABC. There is no bias - only that which you and I perceive.
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:42pm
    Damn right Bobeye and dougie!!! You both need new aerials, me thinks.

    I personally think the ABC is pathetically rehashing commercial news because it no longer has the funding to pursue its own news or use investigative journalists. Plus the ABC appears to be very, very aligned with Israel which is strange given this is Australia.

    However, the ABC and SBS knocks spots of the abject and disgustingly biased commercial megacorp mouthpiece media. Commercial megacorp mouthpiece media are solely there to ensure that people of ordinary means, vote against themselves and support more wealth and more control of our country for megacorps (mainly foreign).
    Bobeye
    12th Feb 2015
    3:04am
    Thank you all for your comments, in reply:

    1) I read the ABC News on a computer (as well as on TV and many of the story's are from commercial TV (most of the Bushfire reports in WA were from TVW7, the girl that was shot was reported on NBN (Channel 9),

    2) I mainly watch the ABC for programs like Australian Story, Landline, Market Reports, Weather and occasionally the in depth reports on politics and the World News,

    3)I have a New Antenna, as the channel frequencies in my area could not be received on the old one,

    4) Then I purchased a Samsung 2 years ago, but my LG was a better set (it is now on the patio with a Set Top Box), and is used by the Grandchildren to play games.
    Billy
    11th Feb 2015
    2:46pm
    George Orwell was more of a visionary than we thought. If Samsung can transmit voice data without our knowing, how long will it be before they are transmitting pictures? And don't think that governments are so benign that they won't use that technology or demand transfer of the data. Of course 'terrorism' will be the excuse, but control will be the reason.
    KSS
    11th Feb 2015
    3:06pm
    Billy "they" already can and do transmit pictures and tag them with your location! Smart phones have been doing that for some time in cahoots with facebook!
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:44pm
    Well said KSS, sadly you are right!
    dougie
    12th Feb 2015
    7:21am
    Billy
    It is not only Smart Electronic things that transmit data. Do you realise that if you use a Store Owned Credit?Debit card that you immediately advise the store of what you have bought and where the purchase was made and also the price. The store or bank knows where you have travelled or holidayed. From this information they then target your Loyalty Card with like offers. Check it out!
    pate
    11th Feb 2015
    3:47pm
    Samsung is a damn good brand & it seems a shame that there is so much being said & so very little available in facts, Get your facts fair & square before printing such hoo haa.
    Anonymous
    11th Feb 2015
    9:47pm
    pate… are you pete with a difference?

    Well, go on then pate, TELL us what the FACTS are!

    Do you think that a megacorp like Samsung would allow media to say such things IF they didn't get it right? Samsung have NO PROBLEM taking anyone to court and suing the pants off them.

    So, on that basis… which bit did the above article get wrong and will Samsung be suing?
    Reeper
    11th Feb 2015
    6:42pm
    Errrr! I think if you read little more, you will find media journalists have said that whilst this can occur, the chances are extremely unlikely. Voice recognition only occurs when the 'micophone' symbol is on display and that requires user activation. Once the commands have been given the microphone can be turned off....
    Hawkeye
    12th Feb 2015
    3:46am
    Maybe, but a downloaded update (either from Samsung or a more sinister source) would soon change that.

    11th Feb 2015
    9:24pm
    Sorry but that was ILLEGAL in Australia. You are NOT allowed to record peoples private conversations without first asking permission.

    WHY are these megacorps being allowed to break Australian LAWS without our prosecutors taking them to task and ensuring that EVERY PERSON that has bought one of these TVs signs something that gives them permission to record conversations. If they do not do this then they are in breach of Australian Law.

    Is it yet another example of megacorps being above our LAWS and Australian politicians and officials sitting on their hands like pathetic idiots? They did the same when the NSA (American spy agency) was found to be taping EVERY conversation; emails; etc in many countries INCLUDING Australia…… which, under Australian LAW, is totally illegal, not to mention that it was espionage. Abbott and Murdoch & other megacorp media mouthpieces simply turned to other news and expressed no outrage over the breaching of Australia's sovereignty, at all. Brings to mind….'nothing to see here folks, move along'.
    KSS
    11th Feb 2015
    10:31pm
    You are correct Mussitate in that you cannot record someone without their permission. However, Samsung have the declaration in their terms and conditions and this effectively gives them permission to capture the voice activation when you use the product because using the product is subject to their terms and conditions. You accept the T&Cs when you use it. That makes it legal. At least Samsung have declared it and issued warnings to purchasers. Problem is most people would not read the T&Cs and would not protect their own privacy.
    Anonymous
    12th Feb 2015
    8:56am
    Quite right KSS and if you don't like the terms and conditions, don't buy the product! Simple!
    mudGecko
    12th Feb 2015
    1:54am
    This is a media frenzy over nothing. My Samsung Smart TV has to have its microphone turned on by the viewer, and it then flashes an icon and beeps to advise the mike is turned on. If no voice giving one of a limited range of commands is heard immediately, it turns off. End of story.
    KSS
    12th Feb 2015
    7:42am
    But never let the truth get in the way of a good beat-up:-)
    Anonymous
    12th Feb 2015
    9:50am
    The media are the biggest culprits in this country. Latch onto a point and blow it out of all proportion.
    Hawkeye
    12th Feb 2015
    2:22am
    I bet the mad monk is already drafting legislation to give himself the power to listen in us.

    Oh, I forgot, we have a new Tony now that good government started on Monday.
    In that case he surely would be drafting legislation to outlaw these listening devices and to protect our privacy.
    Anonymous
    12th Feb 2015
    9:49am
    The problem can be solved apparently by going into Settings on your TV and turning the microphone OFF.
    Lady Tracey
    14th Feb 2015
    3:00am
    You would be better served to also inform people correctly of these issues as 'all or any' of these TV's that have this software/ability need to be 'activated' via the remote control! It does not and cannot listen in unless the remote is activated by the user. Not unlike Siri on your i phones! The coded information is then sent back to Sony or Apple or the like , decoded and then sent back to the TV you have to act out the command. People are now of the belief due to lay person ignorance and articles such as this that do not inform the public correctly of exactly what takes place! Allowing the unsuspecting public to assume that Samsung or the like will have 'carte blanche' to just be turned on ad hock and listen in to your private home conversations without your consent and or manual activation of said products/software/remote etc.
    Please source your facts and technological information correctly rather than adding to ridiculous scaremongering!
    ndibs
    20th Feb 2015
    10:38am
    At last - something sensible
    The whole point of such features is to allow these systems to better fit with the user. This particular feature allows the impaired to interact with and control the device (not the other way round) and while you may not be (or consider yourself) impaired, you might be and then this handy feature can be enabled.
    It's a bit like we now have a premises access standard for the impaired which were previously given little thought. Isn't it great that these people can now get where they need to go (sort of) and find a toilet (sometimes).