Recently Samsung made an announcement that riled up privacy protesters everywhere. They blatantly stated that their new Smart TV’s are in fact capable of listening to and recording your conversations.
These TVs have voice recognition software, but this fancy piece of technology comes at a price, Samsung warned its consumers to not have important conversations or disclose personal information in front of these new Smart TV’s because this audio can be recorded and then transmitted to unidentified third parties.
Many people are now comparing this notion of TV’s spying on you to the popular novel titled ‘1984’ By George Orwell. In this book Orwell writes of Telescreens, which are capable of watching you, tracking you, listening to you and even speaking to you. This book hints that in the future there will be telescreens everywhere and we will be constantly watched, with no privacy. Although the year is not 1984, these TV’s came out 30 years behind schedule. Seems like Samsung is doing a great job living up to these predictions…
— Parker Higgins (@xor) February 8, 2015
“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,”
I for one, would like to know who these third parties are? Yes they are converting our speech to text, but who is doing this and where is that information being stored?
What Does Samsung Have To Say About This?
In response to the aforementioned story written by The Daily Beast, Samsung issued this statement:
“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.”
Okay, maybe so, but isn’t the whole point of a Smart TV its ability to connect to wifi and go on the internet? Why would we want to turn off the feature that cost us an extra $200 or more? I think if it were me, I would just stick to using the good old fashioned remote. If you can’t speak freely and openly in your own living room, where else is left?
How To Turn Off Voice Recognition Feature
Luckily, there is a way to turn off this feature, you will be trading convenience for your privacy. To do this, go to the “Settings Menu” and select “Smart Features.” Scroll down to “Voice Recognition” and switch it to “Off.” While you will no longer be able to use the “Hi TV” command to activate the voice features, you can still access them by pressing the microphone button on your remote. Not so bad at all really, good thing this information came out! What other devices have been spying on us that we don’t know about? Does anyone ever read the full terms of service?