Samsung warns its smart TV sets can snoop on users
10 February 2015
South Korean electronics giant Samsung has revealed its potential for smart television sets that are capable of storing users' drawing room conversations and sharing them without users' knowledge, AP reported.
Voice-recognition technology in the company's internet connected TVs makes it possible to capture and transmit conversations within hearing distance.
Users would do well to be careful in what they said in their living room in view of the capabilities of the smart TV.
"Please be aware that if your spoken works 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," the policy said.
The voice command feature works with the help of third-party software that translated speech into text and sent the command back to the TV.
Users could send commands to the TV's built-in microphone such as "find me an action movie," which caused the TV to search as instructed and as the TV collected voice commands, it also transmitted other information as its individual ID.
Samsung said data collection is aimed at improving TV performance but users can disable it.
Meanwhile, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that every internet-connected device was a potential privacy risk and could inadvertently be used for snooping on its owner.
According to commentators, while Samsung's revelation was alarming for the privacy-conscious, it was a microcosm of a much larger threat that many in the consumer security business had been warning against and which one could expect to hear more often.
Devices that required personal input and the collection of personal data to function whether via voice, camera, location or otherwise had been a part of life for years, and their numbers were increasing.
In smartphones, for instance, a small box collected location data, detected motion, stored audio and video plus kept track of one's online activities. They provided a way for most of the users' apps and services to "listen in" on what they said one way or another, not to mention a microphone which researchers have manipulated to spy.
Similarly, London-based Smarter's Wi-Fi Coffee Machine knew when users woke up or when they were likely to get home so they could be greeted with ready-made coffee.