Your Smart TV may be listening
Most Smart TVs come with voice control systems nowadays. Samsung’s system uses an always-on microphone that is listening even when the TV is off. This feature makes it possible to turn on the TV by using just your voice.
To enable these systems the TV is often transmitting data to servers. This is true for Samsung and others as many manufacturers use the same licensed technology in TVs. However, if you take a closer look at Samsung’s privacy terms, you will learn that voice recordings or data is being sent to third parties as well.
“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.”
Most data collected on modern devices is encrypted, but there are examples of TVs transmitting personal data unencrypted back to service, making it accessible to curious “hackers”. However, Samsung says that all of its data is transmitted with "industry-standard security".
Voice control is also available in TVs from other manufacturers, and will play a central role in TVs with built-in Android TV later this year. Despite growing concerns of privacy, TV manufacturers continue to use vague language and broad terms that allow them to do much more than what most consumers would expect.
Samsung has provided the following statement to The Daily Beast: - "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. 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."