Samsung Responds To Smart TV Listening Concerns

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Samsung has responded to concerns that its smart TVs could monitor user conversations after questions were raised about a phrase in its privacy policy and the capacity for transmission of personal data via voice recognition.Stating its smart TVs do not monitor living room conversations, Samsung has sought to clarify how voice recognition works and how the data is processed via a blog post.

The phrase, which in Samsung’s words “has led to confusion”, reads:

“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.”

The policy has gone viral over the last few days, conjuring comparisons to George Orwell’s dystopian classic 1984.

Samsung has responded by stating it “takes consumer privacy very seriously”, with its products “designed with privacy in mind”.

Samsung states voice recognition takes place in two ways, with the first via an embedded microphone inside the TV set that responds to simple predetermined TV commands, with voice data neither stored nor transmitted in using these predetermined commands.

A second microphone inside the remote control, however, requires interaction with a server because it is used for searching content.

In clarifying its policy, Samsung states “some interactive voice commands may be transmitted”, along with information about the device, including device identifiers, to a third-party service provider (identified as currently being Nuance Communications), which converts interactive voice commands to text.

“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 states.

“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.”

Samsung additionally stresses that voice recognition data collection can be disabled at any time via the settings menu.

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