This shouldn’t come as much of a shock, but your Smart TV is probably spying on you. This doesn’t mean it is out to do something malicious or that the machine has become self-aware, but it does mean that advertisers and third parties have another route to figure out how to reach 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. 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.
Now as they point out over at The Daily Beast via the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this data collection is probably just an effort to turn voice-to-text and improve the capabilities of the TV overall. Samsung even says as much in this statement:
“Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously. In all of our Smart TVs we employ industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption, to secure consumers’ personal information and prevent unauthorized collection or use,” the company said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “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.”
But what isn’t covered is what this third party is doing with your information. Where is it being stored? Who is it being sold to? What else is it being used for? These are all top notch questions you might ask as a consumer, but they might also be something you might want to ask as a citizen too. From Salon:
According to retired Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the CIA, Internet-enabled “smart” devices can be exploited to reveal a wealth of personal data. “Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvester,” he reportedly told a venture capital firm in 2012. “We’ll spy on you through your dishwasher,” read one headline. Indeed, as the “Internet of Things” matures, household appliances and physical objects will become more networked. Your ceiling lights, thermostat and washing machine — even your socks — may be wired to interact online. The FBI will not have to bug your living room; you will do it yourself.
Scary thoughts, right? It’s the reason why it’s easy to slide down into the madness of conspiracy on these topics, with pictures of Big Brother dancing in your head. The reality is not as totalitarian, of course, but the danger is there. People can hack into your laptop cameras, track keystrokes, and scan your credit cards as they walk by. What would stop them from taking advantage of your smart TV or your smart home?
At the very least, it’s something to keep in mind. Samsung isn’t alone with their smart TVs collecting data and our reliance on technology in relation to our privacy is an issue hogging the future horizon. At the very least, you might want to sniff your TV settings.