Samsung Smart TVs are Spying on Users

Samsung’s listening to what customers say around their Telescreens Smart TVs, even when they’re off. Within Samsung’s privacy policy is a clause that allows the company to listen in to chatter around their smart TVs, store the information, and even share it with third parties. If the smart TVs recorded visual information as well, they’d be the Teescreeens straight out of George Orwell’s 1984. Samsung implicitly warns against discussing private information, such as phone numbers, addresses, social security cards, or any other personal details around their TVs, as the information will be collected, stored, and could be shared with third parties.

Samsung has done some pretty terrible things in the past, but bringing 1984 to our living rooms will make a nice addition to their list of atrocities, which also includes threatening bloggers, child labor, and, of course, copying competitors.

Samsung reacted to the news leaking out, telling customers that it encrypts customer convesations and commands, and currently doesn’t sell their information to third parties. However, thanks to this privacy policy, they’re free to begin selling that information whenever they want. The company was also suspiciously quiet about sharing that information with third parties for non-monetary trades, or just flat-out giving it to them. Samsung didn’t discuss how much information they’ve collected, and also didn’t mention how long they intend to keep it. If you have or have used a Samsung smart TV, you may have given them everything you say, and they can do whatever they want with that. The details of this section of the privacy policy are below.

Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can prvide you with Voice Recognition features. 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.

This is a lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s one thing to listen in on the people who agreed to this Orwellian spying policy, it’s another to listen to those who haven’t. For example, say you visit a friend who owns one of Samsung’s Smart TVs. You haven’t agreed to Samsung’s privacy policy, yet Samsung will be collecting everything you say, just the same. If someone there asks for your phone number and you say it out loud, Samsung will have that information. Depending on what they’ve collected, they may even be able to tie it to you personally.

Samsung doesn’t care much for anything but the bottom line. They copy competitors, spend billions on marketing, are willing to threaten bloggers to silence them, and are comfortable with child labor, among many more shady dealings and tactics. If the idea of a corporation owning all of your conversations bothers you, you might want to get a smart TV from a different company. Alternatively, you could also just get a normal TV and perhaps attach a media device such as an Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, or Chromecast. As far as we know, none of those collect your private conversations and reserve the right to share them with other companies.

If you already own a Samsung Smart TV, you can turn off voice commands to prevent the spying feature from activating. You can also disconnect the TV from the internet. If you bought your TV in the past 14 to 30 days, you may also be able to return it, depending on where you bought it from. It’s likely you bought the smart TV because you wanted to use voice commands, but it’s unlikely you also wanted to share your conversations with Samsung. With enough public outcry, Samsung may even remove their policy, although they have yet to even hint that they may do so. Samsung’s latest tactics directly affect their customers’ privacy. Apple promised that 1984 wouldn’t be like 1984 when they introduced the Macintosh. With Samsung’s smart TVs, 2015 will be like 1984.

Sources: TechCrunch and CNet



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