Samsung’s Smart TVs Spy On You Even If You Turn Voice Recognition Off

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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The fact that Samsung’s line of smart TVs rival George Orwell’s telescreens in eavesdropping is nothing new, but the recent revelation that they do so even with voice recognition turned off is.

In the latest privacy policy disclosure to drop about the privacy-invasive TVs — which use voice recognition microphones and facial recognition cameras to constantly gather data on users’ behaviors — Samsung said the devices gather information even when the features used for voice and gesture control are switched off.

“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,” Samsung published in a portion its UK privacy policy, which was spotted by The Register.

“While Samsung will not collect your spoken word, Samsung may still collect associated texts and other usage data so that we can evaluate the performance of the feature and improve it.”

Last year the South Korean electronics manufacturer made just as many headlines for its TVs’ impressive resolution as it did for their frightening ability to gather third-party data including email, phone records, metadata and cloud-stored data from users.

“The amount of data this thing collects is staggering,” Michael Price, counsel in the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law Price, wrote for Salon last fall.

“It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect ‘when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.’ It records ‘the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.’ It ignores ‘do-not-track’ requests as a considered matter of policy.” (RELATED: Why Samsung’s TVs Are Too ‘Smart’ For Their Own Good, And Why You Should Be Afraid Of Them)

According to Samsung, it also transmits that information to other third parties.

“To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service that converts speech to text or to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you,” the company explains.

Users preferring to keep their private lives in the privacy of their homes are advised to avoid the living room.

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Giuseppe Macri