Smart television sets made by Samsung may be capturing personal information spoken by their owners and subsequently transmitting it to a third-party.
“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 not identified the third-party. However, Corynne McSherry, an intellectual property lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), reasons that the company must be providing speech-to-text services for Samsung.
“If I were the customer, I might like to know who that third-party was, and I’d definitely like to know whether my words were being transmitted in a secure form,” McSherry adds.
In a statement made to The Daily Beast, Samsung emphasizes the point that it incorporates “industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption” into all of its products.
The company goes on to state that users can disable Voice Recognition and use predefined voice commands to operate their sets, which will prevent the SmartTVs from listening in on their conversations. However, the policy does note that a total opt-out is impossible: “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.”
This is not the first time SmartTVs have fallen under public scrutiny for potential breaches of privacy. In October of 2014, Michael Price published a story on Slate in which he explained how his SmartTV logged his viewing hours and tracked what websites he visited.
Price never named the maker of the television set, so it is unclear whether he was referring to a product made by Samsung.