Warning over Samsung ‘listening’ TV
Samsung said personal information could be scooped up by the Smart TV
Samsung is warning customers about discussing personal information in front of its smart television set, the BBC reported.
According to Samsung, the smart TV sets which have a voice activation feature "listen" to some of what is said in front of them and may share details they hear with Samsung or third parties.
The BBC confirmed that the third-party mentioned is Massachusetts-based voice recognition company Nuance, which provides the technology to Samsung as a white-label service.
Privacy campaigners have compared the technology to that of the telescreens, in George Orwell's 1984, which spied on citizens.
Orwell wrote: “Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.”
In response to the widespread sharing of its policy statement, Samsung issued a statement to clarify how voice activation works. It emphasised that the voice recognition feature is activated using the TV's remote control.
The company said: "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."
It added that it did not retain voice data or sell the audio being captured. Smart-TV owners would always know if voice activation was turned on because a microphone icon would be visible on the screen.