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Samsung: Watch What You Say in Front of Our TVs

Company's smart TVs record, share everything you say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2015 6:15 PM CST
Samsung TVs Record, Share What You Say
Football quarterback Eli Manning, left, and hip-hop artist Flo Rida admire the design of Samsung's 2013 85" UHD TV, Wednesday, March 20, 2013, in New York.   (Photo by Diane Bondareff/Invision for Samsung/AP Images)

(Newser) – Own a Samsung smart TV? Then take note: Your television is not only listening, it's sending your data to a third party, the Independent reports. The TV's voice-recognition software lets you give it orders, but the product's privacy policy warns that "personal or other sensitive information ... will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition." Samsung tells the BBC that the third party is Nuance, the company that does Samsung's speech-to-text conversion. But intellectual property lawyer Corynne McSherry says it would be nice to see that clarified in Samsung's policy, the Daily Beast reports. "And I’d definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form," she says.

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An activist tweets that Samsung's policy sounds a lot like the description of "telescreens" in George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984—which reads in part, "Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by [the screen]." Unnervingly, it wasn't clear how often "the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork." Samsung, however, says it doesn't keep voice data, and customers can opt to turn off voice-recognition or even unplug the TV from Wi-Fi. And Samsung isn't alone: the Verge reports that XBoxes already use voice recognition while being connected to the Internet. "Samsung's privacy policy is not unique; its rhetoric just happens to be similar to that of a well-known sci-fi novel," the Verge says. (Read more Samsung stories.)

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