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February 11, 2015

Samsung: Our Smart TVs Are Not Really Eavesdropping on You

Company Clarifies Policy Amid Privacy Fears

Samsung has responded to the uproar on the Web over its Smart TVs listening to people’s conversations by updating its privacy policy to clarify just what the technology is capable of.

The South Korean firm has been in hot water with customers since the story broke that the voice recognition capabilities in its Smart TVs was violating users’ privacy.

The hubbub started after the Daily Beast spotted this in Samsung’s privacy policy:  “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.”

Samsung has since edited its privacy policy in a bid to clarify that its televisions do not really listen in on viewers’ conversations.

“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind. We employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use,” reads a company blog post.

“Some Samsung Smart TVs offer voice recognitions functions. These functions are enabled only when users agree to the separate Samsung Privacy Policy and Terms of Use regarding this function when initially setting up the TV. Apart from initial setup, users are given the choice to activate or deactivate the voice recognition feature at any time.”

Samsung also posted the changes it made to its privacy policy. It now reads:

You can control your Smart TV, and use many of its features, with voice commands.

If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, 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 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.

If you do not enable Voice Recognition, you will not be able to use interactive voice recognition features, although you may be able to control your TV using certain predefined voice commands.

You may disable Voice Recognition data collection at any time by visiting the “settings” menu. However, this may prevent you from using some of the Voice Recognition features.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.