Samsung clarified its creepy privacy statement about its eavesdropping SmartTV recently, telling customers that there’s really nothing to worry about.
“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 had posted in its privacy statement for its SmartTVs.
Samsung notes that voice recognition on its SmartTVs happens two ways: through the TV and through the remote control.
Although the TV is constantly “listening” to your voice, it is waiting for you to say a set of predetermined commands, including “change the channel” and “increase the volume.” Samsung said that kind of voice data isn’t stored anywhere, and it’s not transmitted over the Internet.
Through the remote, people can press a button to activate a Siri-like “assistant” that responds to voice commands. You can say, for example, “recommend a good Sci-Fi movie.”
Only those voice commands activated by a button-press on the remote are sent over the internet. A company called Nuance, maker of Dragon speech-to-text software, converts that voice data to text and sends it back to the TV so it can run a search. Samsung also collects those commands so that it can improve its service.
“This interaction works like most any other voice recognition service available on other products including smartphones and tablets,” Samsung said in a blog post. “Samsung takes consumer privacy very seriously and our products are designed with privacy in mind.”. Customers can opt-out of the voice command feature if they choose to.
In its prior privacy statement, Samsung said it collected voice command data from the television as well — and even if you opted out of having the TV collect your voice commands. Samsung had said it would collect the text of those pre-programmed voice commands (though not your voice itself) and analyze how much you’re using certain commands. That language has been omitted in the new statement, and Samsung said in its blog post that it wouldn’t capture that data.
Samsung said it uses “industry-standard security safeguards and practices, including data encryption,” to make sure hackers or snoopers don’t listen into the stuff you bark at your TV.