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Samsung issues warning about talking in front of Smart TV
Conversations could be transmitted to third party, company says.

Fedruary 9, 2015 By Michael Lewis, Hamilton Spectator

Not in front of the television.

A voice command feature on Samsung’s Smart TV could allow the interception of private living room conversations and their transmission to third parties, the company says in a privacy statement highlighted Monday by online news site the Daily Beast.

The statement says Smart TV voice commands could be sent to a software provider as part of the process of converting voice to text.

“Personal or other sensitive information” may be among the captured data it reads, though Samsung said the information is protected through encryption.

“Please note that when you watch a video or access applications or content provided by a third-party, that provider may collect or receive information about your Smart TV (its IP address and device identifiers), the requested transaction (your request to buy or rent the video), and your use of the application or service. Samsung is not responsible for these providers’ privacy or security practices. You should exercise caution and review the privacy statements applicable to the third-party websites and services you use.”

Samsung on its website notes that data from device identifiers could potentially be passed on to law enforcement, advertisers and other groups.

In a statement, the South Korea-based consumer electronics giant said its Smart TVs “employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use.

“Voice recognition, which allows the user to control the TV using voice commands, is a Samsung Smart TV feature, which can be activated or deactivated by the user. The TV owner can also disconnect the TV from the Wi-Fi network.”

Noting that similar privacy concerns have been raised about other voice command systems including Apple’s Siri, a poster on Twitter said the issue is another reason “not to discuss illegal activities in front of a smart device.”

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